At Community Food Share, we’re more than a food bank — we’re a hub connecting a network of more than 40 Partner Agencies working to end hunger in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Throughout our 40-year history, we’ve challenged ourselves time and time again to adapt to the changing needs of our neighbors and inch closer to creating a community free from hunger.

To celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we’re sharing the evolution of our programs over four decades.

The Local Solution

Community Food Share was founded in 1981 as the local solution to a growing problem: people couldn’t afford to put food on the table, and a dramatic cut in funding for federal safety net programs left them with nowhere to turn. In our first year alone, our food bank distributed 48,000 pounds of food to 14 community organizations.

The Emergency Food Program

In our second year of operation, Community Food Share began distributing TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) through our food bank. TEFAP is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food at no cost. By 1994, 13% of all food distributed by Community Food Share was TEFAP food.

In fiscal year 2015, Community Food Share expanded our distribution of TEFAP beyond our onsite pantry by bringing TEFAP boxes to our mobile pantry at Westview Presbyterian Church in Longmont.

Due to the increased need in our community, TEFAP waived restrictions in 2020, allowing our food bank to combine TEFAP with our onsite pantry program and allowing TEFAP participants to shop in our pantry once per week.

A man sorts through canned goods after a food drive

One of our oldest programs, Community Food Share has been distributing TEFAP food since 1982.

Two seniors collect food from a food pantry in the 1980s

Since 1988, Elder Share has allowed older adults with low incomes enjoy a selection of meat, dairy, produce, and pantry staples. Today, our Elder Share program distributes food at designed sites in addition to providing delivery for homebound seniors.

Our Food Program for Seniors: Elder Share

Seniors’ health depends heavily on nutrition. However, getting healthy food can be difficult for older adults who not only depend on a fixed income, but who also have limited transportation options — or may even be homebound.

Our Elder Share program was founded in 1988 to ensure adults ages 60+ in our community could access the food they need to live healthy lives. Within a decade of the program beginning, Elder Share was serving more than 800 seniors annually.

Throughout the pandemic, Elder Share provided a safe option for seniors to get a wide variety of groceries — including frozen, prepared meals made through our partnership with Bridge House — without risking their health. In March of 2020 we modified our Elder Share distribution to accommodate contactless COVID-19 safety measures and continued delivery service for homebound seniors. Last year, our Elder Share program had nearly 7,000 visits with seniors in our community.

Mobile Pantries

Did you know Community Food Share piloted our first mobile pantry in 2002? Recognizing that not all people have the time or transportation resources to visit a brick-and-mortar food pantry, we decided to see what would happen if we brought the food directly to them. Starting at a housing project in North Boulder, the mobile pantry served 60 families in need of food assistance in its first year.

In fiscal year 2020, our mobile pantry program supported 2,350 families across Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Our partnerships with the Longmont YMCA, Westview Presbyterian Church, Countryside Village, Centennial Elementary School, and NEST Communities help us reach thousands of people who may not otherwise get the help they need. On top of that, we also introduced pop-up pantries as an agile solution to the emerging need that erupted after the pandemic. You can read more about pop-up pantries in our Summer 2021 Newsletter.

Check out our Mobile Pantry Calendar to see our monthly schedule!

Volunteers set up a mobile pantry in the early 2000s

Since 2002, our mobile pantry programs have worked to eliminate traditional barriers to accessing food — helping more people in our community get the fresh and nutritious groceries they deserve.

A woman with tattoos holds a gallon of milk at Feeding Families in 2004

Since its start in 2004, Feeding Families has grown into one of Community Food Share’s biggest programs. Every Wednesday through Friday, residents of Boulder and Broomfield Counties can pick up groceries from our pantry.

Feeding Families

In 2004, Community Food Share opened our onsite pantry, Feeding Families. In addition to distributing fresh produce, meat, dairy, and pantry items to our partners, we began to provide groceries directly to people in need right from our warehouse.

In its early days, Feeding Families allowed I Have a Dream Foundation, Parenting Place, and families utilizing local family resource centers to receive free groceries from Community Food Share every Thursday, serving roughly 60 families a week. By 2006, the program expanded to include families with children in the free and reduced lunch program at Casey Middle School. Already, it had become Community Food Share’s largest direct distribution program.

Today, any Boulder or Broomfield County resident in need of food can visit Feeding Families to pick up healthy groceries. Last year, we distributed more than 3 million pounds of food through Feeding Families — and our pantry served as a vital local resource throughout the pandemic.

We couldn’t meet the changing needs of our community without the generous support of the volunteers and donors who’ve helped sustain our mission for four decades. Thank you for making a difference for our neighbors facing hunger. To learn more about our programs, click here.