DENVER (CBS4) – The GrowHaus has distributed the equivalent of 100,000 meals in response to the families in need of food since March when the COVID-19 pandemic affected their neighborhoods. The Denver nonprofit serves more than 500 families in the northeast corner of the city, a community they have helped for more than 10 years.
“I’ve been coming to the GrowHaus ever since they opened because I live very close and I’ve been receiving the food packages and I’m so happy to receive them,” Blanca Orozco Duarte said through a translator. “They have helped my family so much.”
Not just a food distributor but also a place to grow food and teach the community about wellness, The GrowHaus focuses on the Globeville and Elyria Swansea neighborhoods. They have also become a safe place for the community to gather over the years. But the focus for almost three months has been their Rapid Response program, helping families who do not have enough to eat because of the economic impact from the coronavirus.
“In our community here in northeast Denver, folks have a much harder time getting access to healthy foods than a lot of other areas,” said Kayla Birdsong, the executive director of The GrowHaus. “These communities are really the hardest hit in Denver when it comes to food access.”
Packages delivered every seven to 10 days include dry goods as well as fresh produce. Families can enjoy rice, beans, pasta and other items in one box while receiving another delivery of fruits, vegetable, eggs and other perishable items.
“It has helped us so much because my husband has been sick and has not been working so much, and so this has been so helpful for me to be able to feed my family,” Duarte explained to CBS4 on Wednesday.
Latina moms like Duarte are a common client for the nonprofit. The Rapid Response program will continue as long as the community needs it, feeling the impact of COVID-19. The GrowHaus also plans to survey its members not only about their needs for food distribution but also the cost of rent and utilities.
“When you look at how the pandemic is hitting different neighborhoods and different communities, we’re really looking at a situation in this neighborhood where people have been in a very dire situation,” Birdsong told CBS4 on Wednesday. “Within the first week of the pandemic, we were receiving notes on our front door that said, ‘I’m out of food, what do I do?'”
Duarte is one of 2,500 individuals currently benefiting from the nonprofit. She says the oatmeal in packages means a lot to her family because they enjoy eating it each week. But she also appreciate the range in services The GrowHaus provides her including learning how to make cheese.
“It’s so helpful for us to have the GrowHaus here, it benefits the community to have something here that is close where we can get natural and organic food,” Duarte said. “I’m so thankful that the GrowHaus is here and I love it.”