One day after increased funding to help those with food insecurity dried up on March 1, the community gathered for its regularly scheduled annual Care and Share Food Bank Recipe for Hope fundraising luncheon.

Everything about the event was record-setting as 1,100 donors, volunteers and sponsors at Broadmoor Hall raised $452,000 to help provide nutritious food for all who need it in 31 southern Colorado counties. And pledges are still coming in.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) had helped people over the years, but COVID brought needed changes. Because of shutdowns, job losses and instability, the SNAP program was temporarily increased. It returned to the lower pre-COVID assistance this month.

Care and Share issued an alert that those who unexpectedly needed additional food resources should contact the nonprofit.

Executive Director Nate Springer said “the magic” is happening because of staff, 6,000 volunteers and the people in the packed ballroom there for a “united purpose.” “This is the secret sauce.”

“At Care and Share Food Bank, we believe that no one should go hungry. Every day we provide food to more than 300 partner agencies, food pantries and meal sites across southern Colorado and serve more than 200,000 neighbors in need,” Springer said.

A member of Feeding America, Care and Share “has one of the largest geographical service areas in the nation,” from Monument to New Mexico and “everything between Utah and Kansas,” Springer said. Underserved parts of the area are targeted “with mobile food distributions for immediate relief.”

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In 2021-2022, it provided 20.2 million pounds of food, “the equivalent of 16.9 million meals.” Already it is “on track to achieve 21 million pounds of food, or 17.5 million meals. This success is directly attributable to the kindness and generosity of donors, businesses, foundations and volunteers across our region and southern Colorado.”

There are two major distribution sites, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, to be officially joined after a May 11 grand opening at a spacious new site built in Alamosa. There are Sunnyside Markets where people can shop, in Fountain and Pueblo, and a third market being added at the Southeast Family Success Center. Mobile trucks are available in many areas.

Sharing their Care and Share stories were Diane Ramirez and Tye Prater. Ramirez had been hit and run over by a semi and learned to “walk, talk and think” again. She loves the visit at her senior housing by the mobile truck and the special diabetes-diet food help. Prater is an Air Force veteran, now a teacher and coach.

He remembers when his parents became disabled and had to reluctantly reach out for help from the community. “You’ll face challenges and you have to face the challenges,” he said. “There are people who will help you. Care and Share takes care of people ... a team effort to make it through life.”

Springer attributes the nonprofit’s continuing growth to the legacy of 11-year CEO Lynne Telford, who retired in 2022. Care and Share doubled in size under her leadership. Springer retired last year from the military as Fort Carson garrison commander and was under consideration for the top food bank post.

At the 2022 Recipe for Hope “I was here as a donor,” he said, but as he walked out the door at The Broadmoor, “I knew I would be honored to be part of this.”

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