At Care and Share Food Bank, we believe that no one should go hungry. Every day, we provide food to our partner agencies across Southern Colorado to serve our neighbors in need because well-fed communities are better for us all.
Our mission is to provide food, partnering opportunities, and education to combat hunger and food insecurity in Southern Colorado communities.
Our core purpose is to bridge the gap between hunger and abundance.
Our vision is an end to hunger in Southern Colorado.
Gazing out of her office window overlooking the Colorado Springs Bijou bridge in 1972, Franciscan nun Sister Dominique Pisciotta realized that our city was not doing all that was possible to help those in need. This observation prompted Sister Dominique to garner the support of various churches and socially focused groups. Care and Share Food Bank was born out of the community's desire to ensure that our struggling neighbors had the food they needed to thrive.
Sister Dominique Pisciotta established Care and Share as a referral agency to coordinate food distribution. Sister Pisciotta and representatives from several emergency food agencies created a unified voice for hunger and poverty issues in the Pikes Peak region. The new Care and Share organization, incorporated on October 10, 1974, established a central telephone clearinghouse, followed by a master file of persons helped by the agencies.
Incredibly, for the first eight years of Care and Share's existence, all tasks were accomplished through the dedication of volunteers. In that time, Care and Share provided more than 80,000 food baskets to people in need throughout the Pikes Peak region. Care and Share continued to operate on an all-volunteer basis until 1982, when the organization became partly funded by Pikes Peak United Way. Care and Share asked the Pikes Peak United Way for support to hire two salaried employees.
Care and Share continued to evolve and grew from a simple clearinghouse for food distribution to a sophisticated telephone referral service and food resource coordinator. Care and Share acquired the administration of Project COPE (Citizens Option to Provide Energy), a program that used donated money to provide one-time assistance to low-income persons. Care and Share also merged with the Pikes Peak Food Bank in 1980.
By 1986, Care and Share fed more than 6,000 people, distributing approximately 30,000 pounds food each month. Care and Share had grown from an all-volunteer staff serving 13 agencies to a staff of seven serving 47 agencies. Care and Share also administered the Pikes Peak Food Bank and COPE.
In 1989, Care and Share became a member of the America's Second Harvest National Food Bank Network (now called Feeding America) and began to focus solely on food distribution. This association also expanded the service area from two counties to the 31 counties that comprise Southern Colorado. Joining Feeding America allowed Care and Share access to a wider variety and amount of products, which are donated by national food distributors and wholesalers. This relationship with Feeding America has become a major resource for Care and Share. In addition to providing food, Feeding America serves as a resource for professional development and networking opportunities, as well as coordinates efforts for product donations and distribution during disaster situations. Financial resources are brought to bear locally as a result of national relationships garnered by Feeding America.
As the population of Southern Colorado has increased, so has the need. Seeing the need to serve further, Care and Share opened a second distribution center in 1999 located in Pueblo, Colorado. Care and Share leased distribution center space in Pueblo until 2007 when it purchased its own distribution center south of the city. In 2014, Care and Share acquired additional space, which was much needed in order to serve the growing need in Pueblo and throughout Southern Colorado.
Through the years, Care and Share leased distribution center space in different areas of Colorado Springs, but as the need grew, Care and Share kept outgrowing the spaces. Visionary contributors who served on the Care and Share Board of Directors, and local community trustees, saw the need to construct a facility capable of providing access to food for people in need throughout our 31-county, 52,000 square mile service area. In 2009, Care and Share moved into its permanent Colorado Springs home. This 50,000 square foot, LEED Certified Silver distribution center incorporated the best of food banking practices and allowed Care and Share to distribute more nutritious food than ever before. Since moving into this state of the art facility, Care and Share has been able to distribute millions of pounds of nutritious food to our neighbors in Southern Colorado striving to regain their place in the community. 84% of the food Care and Share distributes is considered highly nutritious, which helps nourish people longing to feed their families, parents, and themselves.
Beau, a 4th grader at Queen Palmer Elementary, knows that it's hard to focus or have energy when he's hungry. "My tummy speaks to me and says, 'feed me, feed me, feed me,' and it never stops and it's annoying," he told us.
One of the ways Beau and his family are able to get enough food is through Care and Share's Send Hunger Packing program, which is part of our Children's Nutrition Initiative. Each week, a group of volunteers come to Care and Share's distribution center to pack dozens of bags with food items, like peanut butter, pasta, canned meats, fruits, and vegetables. Those bags then make their way to schools we partner with across Southern Colorado. Students like Beau pick up the food bags at the end of every school week to take home and share with their families over the weekends.
Beau gets excited when he picks up the bag to take home. "It just means that good things are going to happen and the food's delicious… It means everything to me." Beau said. "Because of this food, I feel so awesome, awesome!"
Maria, Estrella, Genesis, and Cielo
Maria has avoided a problem that a lot of other parents have. Her three children, 5-year-old Estrella, 4-year-old Genesis, and 2-year-old Cielo eat a lot of vegetables. "Maybe it's why they're so smart," she lovingly says.
And while it's not a fight to get her kids to eat healthy food, it is a struggle to afford it. Maria's husband is working full-time while she stays at home to take care of the children. With one income, buying vegetables is out of the question. So, she visits a food pantry. There, she gets shelf-stable food and, importantly, fresh fruit and vegetables. "We just wouldn't be able to afford these veggies otherwise," she said. "The kids are getting what they need because of this."
And they're not just getting veggies. During the summer, kids can also eat breakfast and lunch at the pantry. "The kids love it," Maria said. "And it's a big help for me, too."
Summer can be a stressful time for many of our neighbors in need. Thousands of children in Southern Colorado are at risk of missing meals because they no longer have access to school food. As a result, many families on a limited income struggle with higher grocery bills. 12-year-old Jorge is a student in Colorado Springs who takes advantage of the Free and Reduced Price School Meals. He says his family has found relief this summer through Care and Share Food Bank's Summer Mobile Food Pantry Program. Jorge, his younger brother, and his mom stop by the Summer Mobile Food Pantry held at the Deerfield Hills Community Center every couple weeks. "It helps us save money for things like… water and light," Jorge explained.
In Care and Share Food Bank's efforts to make sure no one goes hungry, multiple Summer Mobile Food Pantries are available throughout the Colorado Springs and Pueblo areas. In its third year running, each Mobile Food Pantry offers a variety of healthy, nutritious, in-season produce, as well as staple items like canned protein and bread. Every week, the food presented at a Mobile Food Pantry varies. On average, a family leaves with 10-12 pounds of food.
At Deerfield Hills, Jorge and his younger brother help his mom carry some of the heavy produce, like a bag of potatoes and a watermelon, to their car. Jorge says he enjoys getting the nutritious food during the summertime that helps him cool down. "When it's hot, we can eat some watermelon outside," Jorge said with a smile on his face.
...And these are just a few. Imagine the countless stories of hope throughout Southern Colorado that are waiting to be written.