The governor of Colorado declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, you overstocked, and now your house is overflowing with food that will soon expire. Before tossing produce and other perishables into the landfill, consider this: Even when there isn’t a global health threat, 596,150 Coloradans struggle with hunger annually.
More Coloradans than ever are likely to go hungry this year, as social distancing measures and mandated business shutdowns leave many individuals out of work and others struggling to feed kids at home from school. (Jeffco Public Schools and Denver Public Schools are doing their part by offering free grab-and-go meals to kids and adults during the extended spring break.)
Compounding the problem, nervous consumers have emptied grocery store shelves across metro Denver. Retail partners such as King Soopers often donate leftover items to large-scale food-rescue operations, but as their stocks dwindle, so do their much-needed contributions.
For large-scale distributors like Food Bank of the Rockies, your food donations aren’t a top priority, as they can tax the system. Instead, cash donations and volunteers are preferred as the big nonprofits ramp up their services.
Neighborhood food pantries, on the other hand, can and will take your perishable items, including dairy, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and sometimes even meat. Food that has been opened or used cannot be donated, and homemade items and/or previously prepared foods are also a no-no.
Here’s where to take that box of uneaten Costco bananas (and any other foods you'd like to donate) before the whole bunch goes bad:
Bienvenidos Food Bank
3810 Pecos Street
Fresh donations are accepted from 9:30 to noon every Wednesday and Thursday morning. Drive through the alley on the east side of the building, and volunteers or employees will help you unload.
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1100 East 18th Avenue
Aimed at providing nutritious groceries to Denver residents, Metro Caring stocks its Fresh Food Market with healthy food donations. Generally speaking, the organization’s food donation hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Tuesdays, Metro Caring accepts food from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it's closed the first Wednesday of every month for staff training. Drop food at the back door at any point during business hours.
Denver Inner City Parish
1212 Mariposa Street
Food donations help Denver Inner City Parish focus its funds on programs and services. Both fresh and shelf-stable items are accepted from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. The nonprofit is working to expand drop-off options. In the meantime, it helps if you call ahead before dropping off food.
Community Ministries of SW Denver
1755 South Zuni Street
Food donations are being accepted through the door in the alley; drop off items during regular pantry hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday; and 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Jewish Family Service
3201 South Tamarac Drive
The organization accepts both fresh and nonperishable food donations. Donations are accepted from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. A “greatest needs” list is available online. In addition to food, Jewish Family Service is providing mental health services during this uncertain time.