On a typical day in Feeding Families, our onsite pantry, participants browse the aisles and fill their carts — just like a grocery store. When COVID-19 reached Colorado, however, we were forced to transform the pantry into a drive-through. Though our visitors still leave with trunks full of fresh produce, proteins, and pantry staples, the scope of choice has lessened. Participants with dietary restrictions were hit hardest by this unforeseen transition.

For a solution, we turned to our longtime partner Bridge House. This Boulder-based non-profit provides housing assistance, employment, job training, and meals to adults experiencing homelessness. For nearly 25 years, Community Food Share has supplied Bridge House with food they use to produce meals in their Community Table Kitchen, a social enterprise that employs their clients. Today, our partnership has expanded even further.

We now contract with Bridge House to create prepared, made-from-scratch meals that are easy for our participants to re-heat and serve — plus, they’re vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. We are able to provide ingredients and cover the cost of labor, thanks to your generous donations. In the first month alone, Bridge House made 1,500 meals, including vegetable stir fry, lentil stew, and chili! On top of providing more choices, these meals also give parents and guardians time back from food prep — a blessing for adults who often work more than one job to provide for their families.

We look forward to the day when we can welcome participants back to our indoor pantry. Until then, thank you for helping us meet the dietary needs of our community while supporting Bridge House’s employees as they build better futures.

This story originally appeared in our Fall 2020 Newsletter. Photo courtesy of Bridge House, taken by Shannon Kiss Photography.