By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – Thanks to local and corporate donations, the Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver is able to help thousands more Coloradans during one of the pantry’s busiest times ever. Though donations of food and money are declining, the pantry is currently serving record numbers of people in need due to the coronavirus pandemic.

(credit: CBS)

“This past month has been the perfect storm. We’ve had a decrease in food supply, a decrease in volunteers, and an unprecedented need for food assistance,” said Erin Pulling, CEO of the Food Bank of the Rockies. “Donations of food have been down, but demand is up.”

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Though many businesses have been forced to drastically cut their staffs, or even go out of business, some are stepping up to provide in a time of need. Though the airline industry is one of the biggest industries to be hit by COVID-19 restrictions, Southwest Airlines decided they would donate thousands of their in-flight snacks to the food bank.
“By suspending our in-flight service, we are able to donate our in-flight snacks. It is about 18 pallets worth of food. It’s about 150,000 servings we can offer the Denver community,” Southwest Airlines Community Outreach Lead Lexi Muller told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

(credit: Southwest Airlines)

Without food donations, or monetary funds from others, the food bank is forced to spend their own money to help feed those in need.

“(COVID-19) is costing Food Bank of the Rockies hundreds of thousands of dollars every single month,” Pulling said.

Pulling said some individuals have donated $1,200 dollars to the bank, which helps feed many.

“Which is their surplus check. We are also depending on financial support more than we ever have,” Pulling said.

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Some companies like HealthONE, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, announced they would be donating money to non-profits that help the communities. HealthONE’s Associate Vice President for Community Engagement, Maureen McDonald, said the company donated a large amount of money to the Food Bank of the Rockies to help cover the expenses.

(credit: CBS)

“(We donated) $45,000 for the food bank. We felt it was important to support metro area residents with that kind of gift,” McDonald said. “Many food pantries are being faced with closing their doors.”

Pulling said the donations from local residents, Southwest Airlines and HealthONE would go toward feeding thousands of people in Colorado and Wyoming.

“Many of whom are finding themselves in need of help for the first time ever,” Pulling said.

Pulling encouraged those capable to step up and assist the food bank during a time of need.

“Like what HealthONE, and Southwest Airlines are doing. So, we can step up as a community to meet this need.”

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LINK: Food Bank of the Rockies

Dillon Thomas