By Dillon Thomas

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Thousands of Loveland residents are receiving free hot meals during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to Betta Gumbo and Citipointe Church. More than 2,000 fresh and free meals have been distributed at the downtown Loveland restaurant thanks to grants and donations from the community.

(credit: CBS)

Alongside a dollar-for-dollar match from Citipointe Church, Betta Gumbo received a $4,000 grant from the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger, Emergency Hunger Relief Fund and a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.

Those wanting a free meal are not required to show a financial need. Anyone is welcomed to pull up to the restaurant on select days, where they are offered free food and prayer with no questions asked.

(credit: CBS)

“The desperation in people’s eyes, it is life changing. We have a lot of people hurting,” said Clay Caldwell, owner of Betta Gumbo. “The season is full of opportunity.”

Betta Gumbo has already given away more than 200 hamburgers, 600 chicken caesar wraps, 125 pounds of pasta and 40 gallons of chili. The church has also prayed for more than 700 people, and donated more than 500 hours of time to the cause.

“Reaching out and helping somebody is part of our process too, giving back,” Caldwell told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “They’re just normal people who have been hit really hard during this time. We’re feeding four people for $10 (covered by donations). That is life changing for many of these families.”

Citipointe Church Pastor Aaron Lucas

Citipointe Church Pastor Aaron Lucas (credit: CBS)

Citipointe Church Pastor Aaron Lucas said his church saw the partnership with Betta Gumbo as a way to reach the community with love.

“The church exists for moments like this,” Lucas said. “(We are providing) free food to anyone. Schools, nursing homes or people who come by. It has just been incredible. Our heart is to love and serve our city in any way shape and form we can. It is incredible to see lives impacted just by pure love.”

Betta Gumbo is currently giving away free meals to anyone who shows up to their restaurant on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“It is proof that people matter,” Caldwell said. “The community is rightly named — Loveland. It is so full of compassion.”

Dillon Thomas