Denver metro area food banks struggle with increased demand

Organizations ask for help as COVID-19 creates new challenges


Grocery stores aren't the only entities that are feeling the impact of COVID-19 — food banks are too.

Erin Pulling, president and CEO for Food Bank of the Rockies, said the organization that provides food to 700 food pantries in Colorado and Wyoming depends on grocery store donations for about a third of the product it distributes.

“We've seen store donations from our grocery partners decrease over the past couple of weeks while we are trying to dramatically increase the amount of food we are distributing,” said Pulling.

Food Bank of the Rockies receives food from stores like King Soopers, Safeway, Walmart and Costco locations.

“We've already seen (an increase in food distributions), and we expect an increase in need for months to come. So many people are without jobs or unable to work due to childcare issues,” she added.

Overall, food distribution roughly doubled the week of March 16 in comparison to the previous week for the organization, Pulling said. Food donations from residents to the organization can be complicated because Food Bank of the Rockies needs to sort, sanitize and redistribute all food donations.

“It is more impactful for people to make a financial gift, and we need volunteers,” said Pulling. Opportunities for both can be found at

Integrated Family Community Services, a nonprofit based in Arapahoe County that provides services such as school supplies, financial assistance, clothing and food through its food bank at 3370 S. Irving St., has also seen an increase in demand.

Todd McPherson, development director for Integrated Family Community Services, said that at the height of 2019, the organization was feeding 800 families a month. Now, Integrated Family Services has been seeing more than 200 people a day come by for food.

The organization is now an emergency food provider, McPherson said, and it is offering food to everyone in the state.

“The hunger issue was real in the (Denver metro area), and now it is going to become more real than ever. We desperately need support to provide and to plan for the future to have confidence that we can continue to do this,” said McPherson.

You can donate to Integrated Family Community Services at Its food bank is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wellspring Church in Englewood at 4300 S. Lincoln St. is still operating its food pantry, but Mike Sandgren, director of compassion ministry for the church, said it is being cautious.

The church has moved its food pantry outside, and since Food Bank of the Rockies has been limited on food donations to Wellspring Church, it has created a “hiccup” for the pantry, Sandgren said.

“One of the commitments we have made is to try to open up more than we did previously, because we expect food insecurity to be on the rise,” said Sandgren.

Sandgren said there has been an average amount of people who have used the pantry, and it plans to open it an additional day during the week. The pantry is open Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and now Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.


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