New Chief Takes Over Colorado Springs Meals Rescue as Metropolis’s First Group Meals Middle | Colorado Springs Information
Public health restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic withered the Colorado Springs Food Rescue taproot, which two Colorado College students began in the fall of 2013 by rescuing leftovers from the campus cafeteria and cycling the reusable food to the soup kitchen downtown.
After seven years of activity, this aspect has become a small part of the organization, said founding director Zac Chapman. Most of the food “rescued” and reused is now from grocery stores, he said.
The move is one of several changes for the organization that has grown to 12 employees and multiple programs.
Chapman is stepping down next week to become the development organizer for the Boulder-based Food Rescue Alliance, a nationwide network of 30 food rescue organizations, including the one in Colorado Springs.
Patience Kabwasa becomes the new managing director on October 1st.
Kabwasa is the oldest Colorado Springs Food Rescue employee who volunteered when the organization was in its infancy.
As a mother of three, Kabwasa said she knew what it was like to fight, to put food on the table, to support her family.
“People are still making decisions about whether to pay the light bill or buy groceries,” she said.
Affordable, healthy groceries can be inaccessible for families without sufficient income or transportation to shop at a grocery store if groceries are not within walking distance in their neighborhood.
And that’s the new focus of Colorado Springs food rescue, which is in the final stages of a $ 2 million fundraiser to build the city’s first community food center, Hillside Hub.
The property is on 3.5 acres on which South Institute Avenue ends at Fountain Boulevard in the Hillside area of the southeast side. In the summer the property was converted into a farm in the neighborhood.
The organization hired seven students to study on the job through an internship program. They built a communal study garden with vegetables and an outdoor classroom. They helped a community composting social enterprise with 200 customers who contribute household food waste that is turned into healthy soil. They also supported a free food distribution program for needy residents.
The organization had worked with community distribution points for the free grocery giveaways that 25,000 people used over the past year. With the pandemic closed many of these locations, food distribution is now centralized in her office in the old Helen Hunt school in the Hillside neighborhood, which is home to various nonprofit organizations.
A $ 67,000 paycheck protection program loan helped keep food rescue workers working.
With about $ 400,000 left to raise, construction of a 4,000-square-foot community food hub in the countryside should begin next spring, Chapman said. The building will host educational food and garden programs, workshops, free and low-cost food distribution, cooking classes, and other events.
The organization plans to rename itself in October with a new name, logo and new three-year strategic plan, Kabwasa said.
Massive hunger relief efforts have been in place across the country for decades, with little progress, Chapman said.
In 1995, when the US Department of Agriculture began measuring food insecurity, 12% of Americans did not have reliable access to healthy, nutritious food. The percentage has fluctuated minimally over the past 25 years, Chapman said. In 2018, the USDA reported that 11.1% of households were food unsafe at some point during the year.
Colorado Springs Food Rescue is part of a new wave of grassroots “food justice” organizations that promote the belief that access to healthy, fresh, and reliable food is a human right.
Chapman said food equality remains a complex issue.
“Food system inequalities that lead to hunger are closely related to systems of racism and the way our economy works,” he said.
Stagnant wages, declining social services, and the availability of housing, transportation, and low-income health care affect a family’s ability to access food, Chapman said.
Progress is being made locally, with a new non-folk food distribution on Sundays and pop-up fresh food markets in the neighborhood, according to Kabwasa.
The Hillside Hub and Hillside Neighborhood Farm offer another new, creative way to access healthy food, she said.
“Based on my experience of what it means to put food on the table and how important the community is to dissuade you – that’s what we hope to build, create and cultivate here,” said Kabwasa. “An area in which we use our resources to eliminate these economic differences.”
Contact the author: 719-476-1656.