Volume No. 16 Issue No. 11 November 2019  

  Food pantry gears up for the holidays
  By Lindsey Harrison

     At the start of 2019, High Plains Helping Hands Food Pantry began the process to transition to the Fresh Food Center with the intent of being a more full-resource center rather than just a food pantry, said Grant Winger, interim executive director. With the holidays approaching, the FSC needs help from the community in some new ways, he said.
   The pantry opened in 2008; and, according to the June 2018 issue of The New Falcon Herald, the Fresh Start Center began as a related but separate entity in 2017. Although the pantry and the FSC have merged, the organization is still located at 7375 Adventure Way in Colorado Springs, Winger said.
   According to the FSC website, the organization’s mission is the following: “By delivering targeted, sustainability programs that address hunger, poverty and joblessness, we are building a model for transformative change in individuals, families and communities.”
   “We want to help enrich the lives of the people we serve,” Winger said. “It is mostly business as usual but we are trying to add to that with a fresh food initiative. We are trying to grow what we can so we have produce that is first-pick for our clients instead of picking through the not-so-good stuff.”
   The FSC grows produce, including lettuce, tomatoes, Swiss chard, radishes and zucchini, and is working to educate its clients on how to have their own fresh produce, he said. “Our food program is 17 percent fresh food compared to the 4 percent that is the national average,” Winger said.
   Because the FSC also provides health cooking classes, job training, personal finance coaching in addition to education about farming and gardening, Winger said the center needs to bring on a client intake person, possibly as a paid position and someone with a counseling background to provide additional support to the clients.
   “We also need food like peanut butter and jelly, cereal, pasta and pasta sauces, cake mixes, canned goods and dog and cat food,” Winger said. “People can also donate money and for every dollar that we get as a donation, we are able to turn that into 5 pounds of meat through our partnership with Care and Share (Food Bank).”
   The FSC serves more than 40 new families each month in 20 different zip codes in El Paso, Lincoln and Elbert counties, he said.
   “Our need for support is definitely growing as we try to serve the local families that come to us as best we can,” he said.
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