DENVER (CBS4)– A Denver food pantry is getting ready to close and that’s a good thing. A decline in COVID cases and the availability of vaccines have allowed the older adults served by the pantry at Kavod Senior Life to get out and shop for themselves.

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This week, Mandie Birchem, Director of Health and Wellness at Kavod, is stocking shelves for the last time. For a year, this was a place for free food and hygiene products. It opened in April 2020 because of the pandemic.

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“To make accessing hygiene and food as safe as possible for our residents,” explained Birchem.

Four hundred older adults live in the high-rise apartments at Kavod in Cherry Creek North. This time last year, they were barely leaving the building following Denver’s stay-at-home order.

Ondalee Kline knew it was for their own safety.

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“We probably all have health issues,” Ondalee said back then. “We need to keep our distance and try to stay home.”

Older adults were hardest hit by the pandemic. The low-income residents at Kavod couldn’t get out and couldn’t afford to stock up.
Through the year, the pantry grew with donations of canned goods, toilet paper and even, fresh produce… Ondalee’s favorite.

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“It’s one thing to have a can of beans and another thing to have an avocado,” said Ondalee.

Ninety-one-year-old Peggy Clason ordered every 2 weeks.

“It’s just been fantastic, that pantry has been,” Peggy said. “I never did want for anything.”

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With fewer COVID restrictions, fewer cases and vaccinations, residents can now safely venture out or order groceries, so the pantry will phase out.

“I’m grateful that we were able to have the resources to provide this service,” said Birchem.

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Any leftovers will not go to waste. Kavod will transition back to a smaller, free food store that’s been run by residents for the last 10 years.