See a need, fill a need: OCF fills gaps

Posted on October 31, 2018

Ending hunger pains... and more

Our Community Foundation is a relative newcomer to the Eagle County nonprofit scene. But the organization saw needs that needed to be fulfilled and jumped in to make a direct impact. The three areas OCF is involved in are reducing hunger, early childhood education and wellness.

Every single month Our Community Foundation rescues 30,000 pounds of food from the grocery stores. This is perfectly edible food but is destined to be pitched. What do they do with the food? The use every morsel in trying to alleviate the problem of hunger in our community.

It works like this: a staff member or volunteer goes to each of the grocery stores in the area and collects food that is nearing its expiration date. The food is sorted and organized and then distributed at little markets at communities throughout the valley.

Another program OCF started this year is a meal delivery service. Just shy of 400 families also receive boxes of food, similar to a Hello Fresh delivery: it comes with every ingredient needed including spices and recipes. Each family has the makings for a meal for every person in the house for the entire week.

These aren’t box recipes, either. These are recipes created by a local chef who incorporates yummy, fresh, seasonal ingredients. Then the families give feedback on the recipes—what was eaten up quickly and what languished. The families might be introduced to a new ingredient or a new way to prep it—think of the daunting and little funky eggplant.

Last year, OCF jumped in when new-to-the-area employees were unable to work, therefore weren’t receiving pay and couldn’t buy even the most basic groceries. The foundation gave out 3000 grab-and-go bags filled with groceries. It was funded by Vail Resorts and it will be done again this year, as a way to welcome new, young employees.

Earlier this year, OCF opened the Eagle River Valley Food Bank, where any one can come to select food. The best part of this food sharing program is that there is no shame. Susie Davis, director of community impact, explains the food bank, located in Gypsum, is open to everyone. It’s free and, well, “We all need to eat. It’s connections of celebration.”

People receiving food are helping provide a service: it keeps hundreds of thousands of pounds of food out of landfills.

OCF is all about giving back and partnerships. It teams with Eagle County Public Health and Vail Health with the MIRA bus; with Colorado Mountain Medical providing scholarships to early childhood educators as well as retention bonuses for teachers who stay with the program. It even makes sure there is childcare for students’ children during evening classes. It also works with the Vail Veterans Program for mental wellness.

Truly, Our Community Foundation is an organization for the entire community. See a need, fill a need.

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