Mobile Food Pantry offers fresh food on the go

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photo by Kim Cameron | The Mobile Food van makes it convenient to get food items.

by Meg Soyars
Due to the labor shortage, Grand County’s grocery shelves are often not fully stocked. On top of this, some Kremmling residents don’t have easy access to healthy food options. Thankfully, Mountain Family Center (MFC) is providing a solution to this issue. A welcome sight in Kremmling is MFC’s mobile food pantry—a van that rolls into town once a month, fully stocked with produce and groceries. The mobile pantry is run by MFC’s transportation specialist, Kim Long, and health and nutrition coordinator, Lindsay Robinson.

“On the mobile food pantry, we offer so many fresh options, including bananas and cuties, and a seasonal fruit each week,” Robinson said. The van also offers a number of other groceries, including blueberries, raspberries, bell peppers, poblano peppers, jalapeños, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, milk, butter, cheese, eggs, and ground beef. When there is an excess at the Granby Food Pantry, the van also includes bread, pastries, cookies, hot dogs, tortillas, nuts, juice, and more.

Long and Robinson hop in the van each Wednesday morning, then head to the Granby City Market to pick up fresh produce for the day’s stops. “We also sometimes include food that has been donated to us through our grocery rescue program,” Robinson added. With the grocery rescue program, stores like City Market and Safeway in Fraser donate food that is about to expire or pass its “sell by” date, so they can’t keep it on the shelf.

The mobile food pantry visits Kremmling on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. Anyone can visit whichever stop is most convenient for them, even if they just need only a couple of things, like bread or bananas. The stops include: River Ranch/10th & Park from 10:00-11:00, the Silver Spruce Apts. from 11:30-12:30, and the Kremmling Food Pantry from 1:00-2:00.

“It’s nice having a stop at the food pantry because it is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays, so this provides extended opportunity for people to come to the food pantry who might not otherwise be able to make it,” Robinson said. She added that the van’s food pantry stop “increase[es] accessibility to hunger relief, which is our main goal through the mobile food pantry:

making fresh and healthy food more accessible for our community.”

“We go to neighborhoods and sites that seem to have a higher need for fresh food and try to reach people who may not have reliable transportation to get to one of our food pantry sites,” Robinson continued. The van offers groceries for seniors at Silver Spruce and Cliffview in Kremmling, plus Grand Living Senior Homes in Granby. Darla Reyes, who runs Kremmling’s food pantry on Tuesdays and Thursdays, explains that the pantry is also a necessary service for the elderly people who can make it there, even if it is
their farthest drive for the day.

“Most of our clients are seniors. Some of them don’t have a reliable vehicle or are too old to drive out of town, so their food resource comes from our pantry. This is convenient for them,” Reyes explained. “It’s a great resource, and the community needs it.” Darla has lived in Kremmling for 4 years, having worked in the pantry for a little over 3 years.

“They’re so grateful and appreciate everything we put in their box; they have a beating heart,” Reyes said of the clients who come to the food pantry. “They don’t take anything for granted, and if they don’t need something, they won’t take it. There’s more empathy here in this community.”

Reyes added that working at the food pantry has allowed her to assist community members on a personal level. “I can let them know about any other resources we have and that they are always welcome here [….] I know that they will have food on their plate, at least for that night,” Reyes said.

The mobile food pantry’s mission is to make sure everyone has healthy options on their plate, not only in Kremmling but throughout the high country. Each month, the van makes stops in Hot Sulphur Springs, Granby, Grand Lake, Fraser, and even Walden. “It’s very special to provide fresh foods throughout Grand and Jackson Counties and interact one-on-one with community members to understand how we can better assist our underserved communities,” Robinson said.

Robinson added that something special they’ve been able to provide on the mobile food pantry has been plant starters from MFC’s garden and greenhouse. They have been producing a variety of veggies, including kale, bok choy, and arugula. “While we have had
a garden for the last couple years, we built a greenhouse this year, to expand the amount of fresh and local food we can provide to patrons of the food pantry, as well as create more educational opportunities through our cooking and nutrition classes,” Robinson explained.

MFC’s greenhouse was built with the help of many organizations. Habitat for Humanity provided their expertise and many hours of volunteer work. Alpine Lumber, Colorado Timber Resources, Neils Lunceford, West Grand HS, and Sisu Farms also provided necessary supplies, compost, and plant starters. From the garden and greenhouse, Robinson has already harvested: radishes, spinach, kale, arugula, mustard seed, bok choy, Swiss chard, basil, and cilantro. “As the season progresses, we will have lots more to harvest and give out at our food pantry and on the mobile food pantry,” Robinson stated.

According to the Center for Health and the Global Environment, fruits and vegetables contain the highest amount of nutrients right after they are picked. They lose nutritional value once the handling/transportation process to a grocery store begins. Therefore, produce harvested from MFC’s garden is the healthiest that customers can get!

“People are always super excited to see us and see all the fresh food options. Working on the mobile food pantry is a lot of fun and a really special way to engage with new community members,” Robinson said. Each month, the mobile food pantry will bring new produce to

Kremmling. Patrons can look forward to eating carrots, squash, peppers, cabbage, peas, and strawberries picked fresh from the garden!

“I’ve had one patron of the mobile food pantry say she loves the new dishes she has been making with the food that she may not normally buy from the grocery store,” Robinson continued. “She says she feels like she’s on Chopped, being given a box of fresh food and creating a dish out of it.” This conversation inspired Robinson to create a mini recipe pamphlet to give out at the van’s stops. The pamphlet provides recipes for dishes people can make using mostly the food that MFC provides on the mobile pantry.

With their garden/greenhouse, physical food pantries in Kremmling and Granby, plus their new mobile food pantry, MFC has been able to accomplish their goal of reducing food insecurity in Grand. Fresh groceries are provided throughout the county, including for those who may not be able to leave their homes easily.

In addition to their hunger relief efforts, MFC provides other essential services. These include clothing vouchers, dental/vision vouchers, cancer-related assistance, housing/utilities assistance, nutritional classes, and family development programs.

To learn more about MFC and the mobile food pantry, please visit mountainfamilycenter.org. A number of volunteer/employment positions are also available to apply for on their website.

Food Pantry Hours
Kremmling: Located
behind West Grand HS.
Open Tues & Thurs 10am-2pm.

Granby: 480 E. Agate Ave.
Open Mon-Thurs 9am-3pm, Fri 9am-12pm