Colorado Springs Food Rescue Hosts Garden Party to Raise Awareness for Food Justice

By SASHA HART

Photos courtesy of Colorado Springs Food Rescue

This past weekend, Colorado Springs Food Rescue (CSFR), a local food justice nonprofit, held their annual benefit concert with Moon Hooch, a Brooklyn-based band. The concert was held at Ivywild School, a local marketplace and brewery, which catered the event with fried green tomatoes and aioli. The sunny day provided the perfect atmosphere for dancing, gardening, and making smoothies with a bicycle-powered blender.

While events are not a huge part of the organization’s revenue system, “bringing community together for fun and festivities centered around food justice has its own value,” said Shane Lory, CC alumnus and co-founder of CSFR. The event was a collaboration between CSFR, Bristol Brewing Company, and the pop-up music collective Cloud Factory. This is the second year that Moon Hooch has played a benefit show for CSFR. This year, Colorado College student band FROG opened for Moon Hooch, attracting many CC students.

CSFR was founded in 2013 by two CC alumni; their mission is “to cultivate a healthy, equitable food system in the greater Colorado Springs community.” This year CSFR has been focused on strategic planning and has also been piloting a new program called Fresh Food Connect.

Fresh Food Connect seeks to help expand access to locally grown produce in neighborhoods that have the greatest need, also known as food deserts. These are areas with little or no access to grocery stores and thus devoid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods. Part of the Fresh Food Connect program is “Grow a Row,” through which Colorado Springs residents who already garden can plant extra produce in their garden and commit to donating that excess. With the help of Denver Food Rescue and Groundwork Denver, two Denver-based nonprofits, CSFR designed a web-app to make it easier to schedule door-to-door pickups of this excess food from gardeners around town. And in order to get the food picked up, CSFR partnered with Community Prep School, a Colorado Springs charter high school, to give students P.E. credit for bicycling around town to pick up the harvests and drop them off at the no-cost grocery programs.

As part of their strategic planning, Lory said that the organization has now crafted a three-year plan to broaden their scope to include food education and food production as main pillars of the work that they do. Lory noted the reasoning behind this is that the organization needs to “make sure we are working to address the underlying cause of hunger—poverty.” To that end, they have begun implementing food justice curriculum in partner high schools in Colorado Springs and are providing living wage employment opportunities for assisting in the management of CSFR’s no-cost grocery programs. Over the next three years, CSFR plans to establish a community-led, no-cost grocery program in every food desert in Colorado Springs, to expand their high school leadership development program, “Full Circle Food Team,” and to pilot hyper-local food production hubs in different neighborhoods.

Fundraisers play a small but important role in CSFR’s business model, but the pop-up garden party at Ivywild was not CSFR’s last fundraiser this year. They will be part of the IndyGive campaign run by The Independent, which runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. If they receive more donations from people under 30 than any of the other non-profits participating, they will win an extra $3,000 prize. CSFR would really appreciate the support of CC students in winning that prize, Lory said.

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