The Pueblo Food Project has launched a virtual community pantry to help connect hunger relief organizations with food supplies for their clients.
The effort is funded by CARES Act money granted to the city.
Monique Marez, coordinator of the Pueblo Food Project, said the Food Project has organized a task force that meets with major hunger organizations across the county.
"In conversations with those groups, we come up with ideas with the best ways to address the increasing hunger needs of the community and one of those was realizing that our hunger relief organizations need access to quality protein, specifically," Marez said Thursday.
The Food Project reached out to food producers asking for items the could sell for a food pantry.
The program has teamed up with eight local suppliers providing of food including Bay's Meat Market, Gagliano's Sausage Company, Jojo's Sriracha, Mauro's Farm and Bakery, Martino Cattle Company, Milberger Farms, Par's Natural Foods, and Prairie Hen Preserves.
Marez said the online community pantry purchased items for the pantry from those groups for about $55,000.
"These are all local products coming from a local vendor and it's good quality stuff," Marez said.
"Hunger relief organizations get to make orders and distribute it to the clients they serve."
Access to the pantry in on the Supporting Pueblo website.
Marez said this is one of the largest local procurement efforts that the city and county have had in the recent past.
City officials said this year, the Pueblo Food Project has distributed 1,400 meal kits to Pueblo School District 60 students and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Pueblo County. They have given 350 COVID-19 safety kits to homeless organizations.
"The Community Pantry is an opportunity for local food makers to support the hunger relief organization to provide the best that our community has to offer to our clients," Marez said.
"It's a win, win, win all around. Our local businesses get money, the hunger relief organizations get some support and our community members can enjoy the best food we have."
Chieftain reporter Anthony A. Mestas can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at twitter.com/mestas3517.