By Nina Holtz
“At first, it was some mainstream vegetable, like a carrot or something, and I wanted to be more original. And, the eggplant came out on top.“
Shane Lory, one of the founders of Colorado Springs Food Rescue, first thought about starting the organization during the summer of his freshman year at Colorado College. While staying at a local cooperative in Boulder, Lory first met the Boulder Food Rescue crew.
“I was having a hard time finding a job in Boulder, so I decided to volunteer for something and I saw the posters around town about Boulder Food Rescue’s volunteer orientation meeting…Because I didn’t have a job at the time, I was able to volunteer a lot of hours for the organization,” said Lory.
After the summer ended, Shane realized Boulder Food Rescue’s model could improve food insecurity in Colorado Springs. In September of 2013, Lowry and a group of Colorado College students including Sanjay Roberts, Dan Lewis, Meredith Bird, Sachi Shida, and Jeremy Flood gathered to start Colorado Springs Food Rescue.
“It’s been a great experience going from having little to no prior nonprofit experience under my belt, to sort of figuring it out how to do it all and working with a really great team, trying to solve a problem that really needed to be solved,“ said Lory.
Since the start of Colorado Springs Food Rescue two years ago, the organization has rescued over 200,000 pounds of food with a team of 16 coordinators and 30 regular volunteers (and a total of around 300 volunteers cycling in and out).
With a bike-powered rate of 50%, Lowry said that the greatest challenges of working in Colorado Springs are the city’s urban sprawl and its areas that are simply inaccessible to bikes.
“Geographically, Colorado Springs is really sprawled out, a lot of the grocery stores aren’t centrally located, they’re all sort of on the outskirts. So, we went into it originally planning on having like 90% of our shifts be bicycle-powered, but realized pretty quickly that might not exactly be possible,” said Shane.
However, despite certain challenges, Colorado Springs Food Rescue has grown immensely as an organization in just two years. Since 2013, the food rescue has partnered with Colorado College to create a work-study program, started a food rescue chapter at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and organized a few resident-driven grocery programs for some neighborhoods on the edges of town.
In their strategic plan, Colorado Springs Food Rescue hopes to create more resident-driven grocery programs in the future.
Like Denver Food Rescue, Lowry said that Colorado Springs Food Rescue strives to have the programs be completely run and organized by the residents of the neighborhoods, rather than by CSFR volunteers. CSFR also wants to help expand the grocery programs to provide more educational opportunities and resources that reduce structural poverty like financial planning classes.
Regarding CSFR’s relationship with Colorado Springs, Shane said that their organization has had overwhelming support so far. As the fourth most conservative city in the country, Lory said that the recovery of food waste garners strong support because it’s a bipartisan issue. “Food waste doesn’t really have any political end or means. We’ve gotten overwhelming support from both sides of the equation in that sense,” said Lowry.