Mondays are Chris Current’s favorite day at the Nederland Food Pantry. After her weekly pick-up at Community Food Share, the week begins with picture-perfect, overflowing shelves. But by Saturday, they’re empty, because the pantry is serving nearly three times the number of households it supported before the virus. Though Chris, Executive Director, has spent over three decades working with the pantry, this is unlike anything she’s ever seen.

The pandemic has imposed unique challenges on Boulder and Broomfield Counties’ mountain communities, and food insecurity is rising as a result. Eldora Mountain, Nederland’s ski resort, was forced to end its season early. “When you take away the skiers, a lot of people suffer; many staff were furloughed, and tourism-related businesses plummeted,” Chris told us. As seasonal employees, Eldora’s lift operators and restaurant staff were initially ineligible for unemployment benefits, so they were among the influx of first-time visitors to the Nederland Food Pantry.

a woman

The photography in this article was generously donated by Caroline Colvin Photography

Disruptions in transportation are compounding the issue of increased need. The pantry is a hub for surrounding mountain communities, serving an enormous 600-square-mile region — the largest in our pantry network — including Ward, Jamestown, Gold Hill, and Left Hand Canyon. Because pantry visitors travel vast distances, many rely on carpooling or hitchhiking. The virus has put a halt on both options, creating a new barrier for those in need.

Recognizing this hurdle, residents of Gold Hill came together to ensure their neighbors remain well nourished. They opened a weekly pop-up pantry at the small town’s general store. Food comes from Community Food Share and the Nederland Food Pantry, and delivering it is another highlight in Chris’s week: “They applaud when the pantry van arrives. They are so happy to see us that they cheer.”

Today’s health and economic crisis is hitting all of us in powerful ways. It continues to bring new challenges to how we feed our neighbors, but it also highlights the resilience of our hunger relief network. Thanks to your support, we’re able to provide more food to the Nederland Food Pantry and assist the great work they’re doing to sustain our mountain communities.

View this article in the print version of our summer newsletter here.