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Colorado Springs food bank makes recycling a tool to fight hunger

January 16, 2017 Updated: January 17, 2017 at 9:26 am
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Warehouse manager Alston Pinter stacks a bundle of compressed cardboard Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2106, at Goal Zero Recycling in Colorado Springs. The center, started in September, hopes to generate profits to support the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado is trying to turn cardboard and shrink wrap into meals for low-income families through a unit it launched in September.

The Colorado Springs-based nonprofit wants to accomplish that goal - eventually generating $75,000 to provide up to 600,000 meals a year - through a new for-profit subsidiary called Goal Zero Recycling, started to recycle cardboard and shrink wrap from business customers that it sells to commodities brokers to generate earnings to support Care and Share, which provides food to nearly 300 agencies in 31 Southern Colorado counties.

Goal Zero is in the social enterprise sector, a new type of business created to solve a social issue such as homelessness or protect the environment and use revenue or profits from a product or services to accomplish that mission. Mental health provider AspenPointe Inc. operates several for-profit social enterprises, and Silver Key Senior Services earlier this year formed a subsidiary called Key Benefits to help its clients and other Colorado Springs-area seniors find the right Medicare supplemental health-care plan for their needs.

"We focus on people, the planet and profits. All of our profits will support Care and Share to provide food for people at risk of hunger. Our goal is zero waste for zero hunger," said Stacy Poore, who is Goal Zero's president and CEO as well as chief operating officer of Care and Share.

The roots of Goal Zero begin with a class three years ago at the Colorado Nonprofit Social Exchange that helps nonprofit organizations learn more about social enterprises. Care and Share's management and board spent a year evaluating the nonprofit's assets and strengths, determining that it already did a lot of recycling and excelled at minimizing waste, Poore said. After narrowing their focus to recycling, Poore and other Care and Share managers spent another year developing budgets and business and marketing plans. Care and Share's board agreed to start the venture in January and she started looking for funding.

"I started looking for warehouse space for us in January and quickly found that warehouse space had become quite expensive. We just couldn't find what we needed that we could afford," Poore said. "We were fortunate that Jim Hendren, owner of the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries in Colorado Springs and a Care and Share board member had just purchased a warehouse near our headquarters and didn't need all of the space. He leased some of the space to us at market value. It was smaller than we had originally planned or budgeted, but it was what we could afford. It's like a starter home for us."

La-Z-Boy will need that space in about two years; Poore hopes Goal Zero will be able to move to its own warehouse and a larger space by then. Goal Zero now has two employees and serves seven clients, including La-Z-Boy, Blazer Electric Supply Co., Current and Walmart, recycling their cardboard with Mexican social enterprise Bio-Pappel and shrink wrap with composite deck manufacturer Trex Co. Inc.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

Facebook Wayne Heilman

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