Denver charities can't find way to pick up 1,200 pounds of free food?

Beth Allison never thought she'd have so much trouble donating food. After all, the economic downturn means there's plenty of need, and the items she had to give were staples -- mainly rice and beans -- that can be easily stored. Moreover, she had a lot of it: approximately 1,200 pounds worth. Which turned out to be the problem when it came time to find a charity willing to pick it up.

Allison is a veteran of missionary work. For instance, she and her husband lived in the Dominican Republic for a stretch on behalf of Healing Waters International, which is devoted to providing safe drinking water to communities around the globe.

The state of the world inspired the couple to start collecting foodstuffs about a year ago. "We've been storing it in the event that there was some catastrophe, and we might need food for our grandkids, for the neighborhood where we're living," she says. But with the holidays approaching, she found herself asking a simple question: "If there are people who need food right now, why are we hoarding it?"

As such, she and a friend reached out to a slew of nonprofits, including the Denver Rescue Mission, Inter-Faith Community Services in Englewood, Church in the City and His Hands -- and while all of them displayed some level of interest, none followed up. "One of the people I talked to asked if he would have to pick it up," Allison recalls, "and when I said, 'Yes,' he said, 'I don't know if or when I could do that.' And I never heard from him again."

Allison doesn't think this lack of response suggests callousness. Instead, she thinks charities are stretched so thin due to understaffing and the size and scope of hunger in the area that they simply didn't have the resources to take advantage of this tremendous gift.

As of yesterday morning, after about a week of trying, Allison despaired of finding anyone to accept her largesse. But a few hours later brought welcome news: Scum of the Earth, a so-called punk-rock church that was the subject of a December 2010 Westword cover story, found a way to pick up the food, which will presumably be filling empty stomachs in the days and weeks to come.

Which is a weight off her mind.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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