Written and compiled by: Diana M. Alvarado, Participant Coordinator
Based on our relationships of trust and as a result of the emergency situation that prevented us from continuing with the usual redistribution, we invited the Grocery Program Coordinators to adapt their systems to the emerging changes of COVID-19.
We started a communication campaign on a scale that aimed to follow the CDC’s recommendations and created instructions for the Grab’N’Go system.
The communities through the GPCs began to participate more actively in the program sharing expectations and collaborative work. We found out a lot of cooperation from other residents and after a couple of weeks, they started to create their own distribution systems according to the physical spaces at their locations and the best practices that worked for them.
The most interesting thing about this was observing how the GPCs found other leaders in their communities that they leaned on to make sure that all residents could have access to the food delivered by BFR.
This gives us great satisfaction because it confirms that relationships of trust contributed to the rapid response and accommodation of these distribution systems among residents and participants.
In addition, the participants’ power to engage for a common good that arises in times of crisis, made communities more involved in the program.
Read the GPC testimonials here
Grocery Program Coordinators – Pat and Larry Nelson
Today’s ‘Boulder Food Rescue at High Mar’ is more complicated, due to Covid-19, but also more enjoyable. We have 59 apartments with a total of 71 residents. It used to be a free-for-all with the early birds getting the “worms” –resulting in a smallish “herd mentality”.
Today, we have a husband & wife volunteer team. First, we clean and sanitize the tables and sweep the floors preparing for the food delivery. We begin Sunday, at 8:45 am, unloading and arranging the food that came in, put gloves and bags out for pickup (we don’t pre-bag because everyone has different tastes and we never get enough of any one thing to serve all. Now there are a few people who are ready to shop before we are and – one person at a time, in the front door, out the back. We begin, again, one at a time, each person shops and socializes – we talk and laugh and have more fun than legal (which makes it more fun). And we begin calling each resident and ask them to come down to pick up their grocery items. Same routine… When everyone has finished, we take deli and some produce to the refrigerator, leave a message on the whiteboard to check the refrigerator, for those who we weren’t able to reach. Then we take refuge and boxes to the trash room – finishing our tour about 2:30 pm. We sleep really well on Sunday nights.
Monday it’s fresh from the farm, organic lettuce. Our routine is similar and lighter. Calling, messages on the board, and clean up.
Every other Thursday at 11:30 am we receive 40 some boxes from Community Food Share. This is boxed, we unload and bring the boxes into our building, call residents to come and pick up, a few need to be delivered to the individual apartments. We clean up again, ready for the weekend. Our community is getting to be pretty tight, we appreciate one another more and it’s easier and faster to say a thank you.
Boulder Food Rescue, especially Diana Alvarado, we want to thank you for providing so much to our community.
Grocery Program Coordinator – Wendi Caller
The NCGP program has been very beneficial to the residents here at Tantra Lake. We have been able to help provide not only good quality food from donations provided by Sprout’s, Great Harvest Bakery, and the Boulder Valley School District. We have been able to provide a small amount of relief from the economic hardship that many communities are experiencing today with the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been able to provide hope and help to many residents, and the program works. We have a constant flow of residents that use the program each week, and the residents that receive assistance from the Grocery Point range from young college students to single adults, to families with children, to elderly citizens. We have a spectacular delivery system in place, and all food that we receive is put to good use. After the residents are served, any remaining food is delivered to attention homes or shelters to help provide additional support to those most in need.
Grocery Program Coordinator – Mark Cline
As the ‘point person’ at Walnut Place, I am responding to: ‘The differences noticed during the Covid-19 pandemic’.
There has certainly been more need/desire for food options from the residents. In conjunction, BFR, and others, have graciously stepped up!
On the receiving end, it has become much more of a challenge to meet the required protocols. There is less Common Area/Community Spaces available. There is less time to actuate all the stages desired with each varied delivery (size of the delivery, how much space is needed, items in delivery, actual time received, etc.). There is the ‘implementation’ of all the Covid-19 protocols. There are often many smaller details, that need to be addressed, that are different from each individual delivery.
The biggest changes due to the pandemic have been the learning curve, the importance of communication, and the extended time needed on both ends of delivery. I have been blessed with two strong and consistent aides, two others that are fairly regular, and three others that are willing to step in if available.
I am willing to share more experiences, observations, beliefs, details, etc.
Thank you BFR, and all the entities involved.
Grocery Program Coordinator – Liza M. Dombrowsky
Volunteering as a GPC during the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me to view first-hand the needs of my community. The number of fellow community members utilizing food support through the program has tripled. Whereas there were 6-8 households within my community accessing food distribution prior to the outbreak, there are now 19 households requesting food. This includes 7 families. As community members faced full-time childcare obligations, job loss, and mobility restrictions related to the Governor’s shelter-in-place order, community need for food amplified tremendously. BFR allowed me to assist in reacting quickly to these unforeseen needs.
It took about two weeks for my community to adjust to protocol changes around food distribution. Sometimes unwanted items would be returned to my apartment door or to the main area where food distribution previously took place in a group setting. Posting signs in the common area provided by BFR helped eliminate misunderstandings and confusion. Including a sign-up sheet for new participants allowed me to continue organizing the program within my community from a distance. Instead of implementing a “grab-and-go” method for food pickup, my daughter and I deliver food bags to households who have signed up. We leave bags at residents’ doors and are able to further minimize community spread that could take place if residents are to arrive to grab a bag. This helps me feel that the program is safe, as there are a number of immune-compromised residents living in our building.
While we have hunkered down, I have seen this community grow stronger – to forge bonds that were not previously present or were fleeting. I have seen individuals grow closer, ask more of each other, and give more of themselves than I believe we ever had before. This situation has instilled resilience in all, we have come together in ways that have truly made us all better people. There’s a feeling among residents that we’re all looking out for one another. This has been expressed to me through letters, texts, and phone calls. I don’t see this changing in the future, as the collective experience we share cannot be understated.
Greetings BFR community, our team here at Boulder Food Rescue has been closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation of COVID-19 as it affects communities across the U.S. We’d like to provide you with some updates of actions we’re taking and how you can help us mobilize.
July 2, 2020
May 8, 2020
written by: guest blogger, Zoe Larkins
As many of us have read by now, the safety measures being taken to stem the spread of COVID-19 are impacting all aspects of food production and consumption in the US and around the world. Farmers are destroying excess crops, grocery store shelves are unevenly stocked, and food banks are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over their budgets to try to keep up with increased demand for their inventory. Most concerning of all, of course, is the fact that millions of people are suffering from more extreme food insecurity or experiencing it for the first time.
At a time when the flaws in our food system are being exacerbated and laid bare, Boulder Food Rescue’s mission is more critical than ever. We are proud that our simple, well-honed model for rescuing food from landfills and delivering directly to people in need has us on the front lines of the tragedy caused by COVID-19. In the midst of an almost constant stream of frustrating and heartbreaking news about how this crisis is affecting people and our planet, Boulder Food Rescue has a lot of positive and hopeful things to report. We want to make sure you know how much you, as volunteers and donors, are doing to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our community.
An increase in volunteers
We have seen a major uptick in volunteer involvement. Typically, there are between 14 and 18 regular weekly shifts in need of a volunteer. Right now, there is only one regular shift that isn’t accounted for. And this is after new shifts were added to the schedule to accommodate new donations!
A quick response
In the wake of Colorado’s school closures and Governor Polis’s announcement of the statewide stay-at-home order, BFR responded quickly to new donations, making sure as little food as possible was wasted. When restaurants that had to close or reduce their hours got in touch to offer us perishable ingredients they couldn’t use, we coordinated new pick-ups. In support of Boulder Valley School District’s efforts to continue to feed students who participate in the free and reduced-cost lunch program and their families, BFR has helped to deliver the food bags BVSD is putting together to No Cost Grocery Programs.
Fresh food: more important and scarcer than ever
In the past week, there have been new reports about the correlation between general wellness and susceptibility to COVID-19. Especially in children, obesity has been linked to increased risk of contracting the virus. Access to fresh, nutrient-rich produce has always been essential to good health, but it is even more important now.
Right now, BFR’s focus on rescuing produce sets it apart from many organizations that provide food to those in need. Because of the simultaneous decrease in donations and increase in demand that food banks are experiencing, many have reported that they aren’t able to donate fresh produce to the food pantries they supply or the individuals who come to them directly. This means that the produce that BFR volunteers deliver is more valuable than ever.
We are so proud of the work that we are doing, and we are grateful to each of you who has signed up for a shift, donated food, or contributed to our operating costs at this critical moment.
If you’d like to volunteer, please get in touch!
April 2, 2020
We have been doing community-led resiliency work for a long time – the current crisis only exemplifies why this work is so important. As things progress, we expect our work of going into communities to distribute food will be more and more necessary. The infrastructure we have in place already allows us to bring food to people who are immobile and/or cannot afford to stock up on food while in weeks or months of quarantine.
Throughout this pandemic crisis, we have witnessed our diverse and unique community band together in mutual aid. Our team has adapted to the crisis by changing logistics to include higher sanitization and hygiene precautions, as well as no-contact food drops between courier volunteers and grocery program coordinators.
Community leaders create their own food access programs and distribute the food amongst themselves. These people already know who needs the food most, who is most vulnerable, and how to get food to them. Furthermore, these community leaders are ready to change the programming to be as safe as possible. When asked to take on extra responsibilities to bag food ahead of time, in order to have quick and safe distribution, they were ready.
We’ve been in coordination with public health officials and have been encouraged to continue delivering food to our No Cost Grocery Programs. When folks will not be able to go out to access other services, they will be able to access this healthy food in their communities. We care deeply about our community and will continue to serve the most vulnerable populations in the safest way possible.
While our team is monitoring and preparing, we continue to work towards ensuring that all community members feel honored, welcomed, and protected. We have encouraged all community members and BFR volunteers and staff, both in and outside of BFR activities, to practice important health and safety precautions, which is always important to keep us all well. Each individual and each community is able to assess their own risk and notify us of their needs. We have always ensured safe food practices and will continue to do so as we prioritize this crucial work.