By Mekialaya White

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – When it comes to food insecurity, the Loveland community is struggling. For 1,500 consecutive days, Loveland’s Community Kitchen has been working to remedy that problem.

“It has been a passion of ours, as we have a very small staff,” said Executive Director Sandra Wright. “It’s such a testament to our community. No matter the snow, no matter if there are freezing temperatures or anything, we are there for those who need food.”

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(credit: CBS)

But the Kitchen still has needs of its own. In an effort to recognize those 1,500 days of service and help generate funds, it has partnered up with the University of Northern Colorado to kick off a new campaign — “15 for 15.” They’re asking that people donate $15, with a goal of $15,000 as the end result.

University of Northern Colorado senior Jessica Caro says it all started as an idea from a Kitchen volunteer, who works at the university. Her journalism capstone class heard about the need and wanted to help make a palpable change.

“I never thought that we’d actually get to, while I was going to university, do something that was real. It’s such a special opportunity,” said Caro. “I think we underestimate the skills and the abilities of us as college students and I think there’s a lot that we can do. I hope that other students see this and hopefully they want to help out and put their skills to good use.”

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The need is especially dire right now, according to Wright.

“We have seen a huge increase. Food suppliers everywhere have seen that increase. For 2020, we had a 50% increase overall. However, some of our months were increased by 135%, maybe greater than that. We are anticipating an additional 60% increase for the first six months of 2021. And that need is going to continue to grow.”

Wright also says the population of visitors has changed, with more of the “working poor” than ever. While about half of them are homeless, the others aren’t.

“If you were to see the different, the diversity of the people that come to the kitchen we can’t make that assumption. It’s a challenge for all of us to be looking at what our internal biases are, what we assume we know,” said Wright. “Shortly after the pandemic started and some restaurants were closing that was just such an incredible, high emotional experience to see someone and they said they were working at a restaurant last week. They were realizing that while they served me last week, I was serving them this week. These are some of the darkest times that people have experienced, but people are still hopeful.”

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To help out, visit Loveland’s Community Kitchen website. You can also donate via Facebook or Instagram at “Loveland’s Community Kitchen” or send a check to Loveland’s Community Kitchen at PO Box 3033 Loveland, CO, 80539.

Mekialaya White