Public Health partnerships help promote nutrition
County partnered with local nonprofits to deliver supplies locally during pandemic
Garfield County Public Health partnered with numerous local
nonprofits and programs to help provide families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and
subsequent economic shutdown with nutritious food over the past year. Staff also helped
coordinate and distribute diapers and formula in the early stages of the pandemic.
The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) provided quarantine food boxes to county staff, which then
worked with its partners to distribute the supplies to local families. Public health worked with The
River Center, Roaring Fork Family Resource Center, District 16 Family Resource Center, Safe
and Abundant Nutrition Alliance (SANA), LIFT-UP and more to distribute the food to the
Christine Dolan, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) director and Nutrition Program manager
for Garfield County Public Health, told the Board of County Commissioners that Hunger Free
Colorado reported that 38 percent of the people surveyed statewide considered themselves
“They felt they did not have consistent access to healthy food and households with children
were especially hit hard when the pandemic took hold,” she said. “The estimate is that 50
percent of families have experienced some food insecurity.”
Dolan told the board that LIFT-Up has seen an increase in food-distribution services of 400
percent, noting that in January and February 2021, the nonprofit served 1,440 and 701 families,
respectively. These figures are down from the peak in April 2020, when LIFT-UP served 3,390
“They’ve pivoted to a drive-through system and will continue to do it that way for the foreseeable
future,” she told the commissioners.
In February, Food Bank of the Rockies partnered with LIFT-UP to help provide food for families
from Aspen to Parachute. It served 589 families from a mobile site at Rifle Middle School, and
another 409 at a similar site at Glenwood Middle School.
“They really stepped up to help meet increased food demand in the region,” Dolan said.
Locally, Meals on Wheels saw an increase in services of six percent in 2020 and delivered 75
“blizzard bags” that contain 48-hours of shelf-stable food during storms in December. Shelfstable foods
re also being delivered to people who have tested positive for COVID-19, providing them with food supplies
that won’t spoil and will be available until they are well again.
“This is to help people who don’t have the support of family or friends,” Dolan explained. “We
provide them with those food boxes as well as some supplemental foods. We have partners in
this process who have taken on the some of the responsibilities of delivering food and helping
with other needs, like rental assistance and the like.”
WIC has seen its caseload increase by 10 percent during the pandemic and is making referrals
to community partners for rent assistance, COVID testing and vaccinations for clients and their
family members. Staff has also been providing breast milk pumps and handing out Electronic
Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to clients.
Dolan added that local school districts are also partnering to provide families with food, ensuring
that students have enough to eat.
“The districts have been impressive in pivoting their models to provide food to remote learners,
as well as in-person learners,” she said. “They are providing grab-and-go meals for numerous
cohorts of students, while serving kids in multiple locations, and many times breakfast and
lunch. They are really hustling to get food out to the kids.”
More information on food security is available at garfield-county.com.