Twenty-five years ago, a car accident left Lenora Cooper with serious injuries and a lifelong, invisible disability. Due to her health condition, she hasn’t been able to be part of the traditional workforce ever since.
On top of learning how to live with the aftermath of the accident, Lenora found herself navigating a maze of social services and paperwork. She was able to stitch together some semblance of financial security with these programs — disability helped cover life expenses like utilities and car insurance, while Section 8 housing ensured she had a roof over her head — but it still wasn’t enough.
A full decade passed before Lenora stepped foot in the food pantry at Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) to get the help she needed. Today, she shops there every week and especially appreciates the variety of fresh, healthy foods including the gluten-free items that she needs to manage her health conditions. “To put it simply: with EFAA’s food pantry, I eat. Without EFAA’s food pantry, I wouldn’t eat,” she explained.
EFAA is one of Community Food Share’s 40 plus Partner Agencies that work tirelessly to address food insecurity in our community. As one of our bigger partners, Community Food Share drops off food at EFAA every Tuesday and Thursday mornings which is quickly unpacked, sorted, and sent home with people facing hunger.
What makes our partnership truly special, however, is its origins. In the early 1980s, hunger had not yet been identified as a local community problem. But when EFAA, Boulder County Safehouse, the Community Action Program, St. Thomas Aquinas Food Bank, and Salvation Army of Longmont came together and compared anecdotal stories and statistics, it became clear that, indeed, hunger was a pressing issue. Community Food Share was created as a solution to this problem.
Originally operating under the umbrella of Food Bank of the Rockies, Community Food Share began in space at EFAA’s ECHO House for families experiencing homelessness. While Community Food Share quickly outgrew the space, our partnership with EFAA has continued for four decades — feeding countless families, seniors, and people with disabilities during their time of greatest need.
For Lenora, EFAA isn’t just a place to get food. Her own experiences catalyzed a passion for advocating on behalf of these issues, and now Lenora serves as a member of the Participant Advisory Committee: a working group that provides essential guidance and input needed to strengthen EFAA and local families. She is also a voting member of the Board of Directors and serves on two other committees at EFAA. “I would love for there to not be a need for food pantries in the world,” she stated. “But that requires a massive shift in policy at the local, state, and federal levels. In the present-day reality, a world without food pantries would be tragic.”
Photo courtesy of Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA).