The Telluride Foundation is excited to announce its new partnership with long-time donor Alpine Bank. Recognizing the high levels of food insecurity in the region and the increasing number of families dependent on our regional food banks, Alpine Bank has developed its “Bank to Bank” Program. The Bank to Bank Program will complement and expand ongoing efforts of the Foundation’s Local Food Initiative, which aims to improve access to healthy, local foods for those who cannot afford them. Together Alpine Bank and the Telluride Foundation can begin to ensure that not only every kid in our community but all families in our community, have good food to fuel a healthy lifestyle.
With the new Bank to Bank Program, Alpine Bank will be working in collaboration with the Local Food Initiative to support families in the West End through a school “Backpack Program.” The Backpack Program will provide low income students in the West End School District, where there is only school four days a week, a backpack of food for the weekend. Over 60% of children in the West End Public School District qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, relying on the school district for two meals a day. The backpacks will contain a combination of both USDA Commodities and fresh produce thanks to a partnership with the Apple Core Project and the Norwood FRESH Food Hub. The Backpack Program, administered by West End Family Link Center and the West End Public School District, is made possible by: Alpine Bank, which is also purchasing the backpacks; the Laura Jane Musser Fund, through a grant recently received by the Telluride Foundation; and the Local Food Initiative, which is funding fresh produce.
The Bank to Bank Program will also help fund local food banks in Telluride, Norwood and the West End, the Norwood Community Garden partnership with the Norwood food bank, the WIC (Women, Infant & Children) Voucher Program, which gives vouchers to WIC participants to purchase produce at regional farmers markets, and the Apple Core Project’s efforts to provide fresh local apples to low income residents and educate the community on preserving and maintaining local orchards.
Food banks have always existed in communities around the United States. Most sites are run by churches or other community organizations and receive most of their food from the United States Department of Agriculture Commodities Program. To supplement the USDA Commodities, our regional food banks incorporate produce donated by local grocery stores, community gardens and the FRESH Food Hub. Running a food bank requires covering the cost of space and utilities, meeting storage needs for dry, frozen, and refrigerated food, transportation, and volunteer mobilization, and our local food banks are dependent on community support and grants.
There has been an increasingly high demand at food banks in the region. West End Family Link Center saw a dramatic increase of 441% in the number of services they provided to unique individuals in the past year. In Norwood, the food bank serves an additional 15 people each month, and currently serves 130 families total each month. Angel Baskets, serving Dove Creek, Norwood and Telluride, supports more than 650 food-insecure people a month.
The Telluride Foundation’s Local Food Initiative is working on other proactive and preventative approaches to addressing health problems and food insecurity in the region. These approaches include a prescription program for patients at the Uncompahgre Medical Clinic and Basin Medial Clinic for fresh produce available at Norwood’s FRESH Food Hub, community gardens in Norwood and the West End, and an Agriculture Program in the West End School District, which was recently awarded a grant from the WholeKids Foundation.
The Local Food Initiative is funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, the Kenneth Goldman Family Foundation, the Telluride Foundation, and now, Alpine Bank, thanks to its Bank to Bank Program.