Local Food Bank takes over a Federal Program

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. As of November 1st, the Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies started handling all Emergency Food Assistance Program or TEFAP distributions. In the past, counties distributed the food quarterly. Locally, it was done by the Mesa County Health Department. However, now that the food bank is in charge, the food will come monthly.

Manager of the Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies, Starlene Collins, they will still continue it's normal food distribution. She said, "We are currently distributing in Mesa County with our staff and our volunteers."

Collins said, "Let's face it, we are a food bank, distributing food is what we do... and Colorado was one of the few states left that did not distribute food through their food bank system." She said the state made the decision to have food banks take over the distribution from local counties.

On Friday, the food bank received several TEFAP shipments. The food will serve thousands of Mesa County residents that qualify for TEFAP. Collins said, "We are shooting for three distributions site across the county and we should have more information about that probably by early to mid-December."

In the next few months, TEFAP will be delivered through the food bank's partner agencies. It hopes that by January it will have enough partner agencies to help with the monthly food distribution. Currently they work with 150 non-profits who help feed the needy. "A lot of the organizations that we work with kind of help people that fall through the cracks, maybe they don't qualify for the government programs, but they still can't make ends meet," said Collins.

Collins said this means better service for people who need it most. "We are excited about the change, and yes, it's going to be more work for us, but everybody here is so passionate about feeding those in need that we don't mind the extra work. We want to do whatever it takes to get the food to people that need it," she said.

The Mesa County Health Department declined an interview but said it's glad the program is continuing because it's a vital part of our community.

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