Beginning in 2024, the National Western Center will convene the world to lead, inspire, create, educate and entertain in pursuit of global food solutions.
And right now, we need food solutions here at home.
As stewards of a future food-and-ag hub, the nascent National Western Center team is doing what we can in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve joined a Colorado Farm & Food Systems Response Team to support farmers and ranchers as they adapt to jarring disruptions in the market.
We’ve also compiled the following resources, and we hope you find them useful:
The COVID-19 crisis has upended the livelihoods of many farmers, ranchers and others in the Colorado food system. The closures of restaurants, schools and other outlets that buy directly from small- and mid-size producers has meant losing access to customers, storage, distribution, and ultimately, revenue. Producers need money now to address new and unexpected needs, from farm labor and technology services to packaging and PPE.
A new, rapid-response fund is providing grants for producers to adjust to COVID-specific needs — from farm labor and technology services to packaging and PPE. Producers can receive up to $5,000, while farmers markets and other food-based organizations can receive up to $15,000. The fund has gifted more than $370,000 to support producers statewide.
The National Western Center joined 13 other food- and agriculture-focused organizations to co-create the new Colorado Farm & Food Systems Response Team and associated fund. The response team is focused on the needs of small- and mid-size growers, beginning farmers and ranchers, veteran farmers, farmers of color, LGBTQ+ farmers, and female farmers — as those often underserved by government programs will bear the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis’s impact.
National Western Center staff is taking a hands-on role in fund management, as well as analyzing data to understand the pandemic’s impact on regional food systems. You can help Colorado producers keep their businesses alive and ensure their products continue to feed our state and region. Apply, learn more, or donate today.
Feeding people and livestock across the Rocky Mountain West is essential business, and spring is still an active time on farms, ranches and urban ag operations throughout our communities. Their work continues even as the effects of COVID-19 have upended the food supply chain as we know it. Those with livelihoods in food and agriculture are suddenly facing tremendous uncertainty.
While many of the region’s seasonal products are not yet available, there are a number of area producers with healthful, local foods for sale today.
You can also donate to a fund to support Colorado producers as the quickly adapt to disruptions in the supply chain:
Chalkbeat, a news organization covering education, has created a digital map to help metro Denver families locate their nearest free meal distribution site.
These sites provide free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options on weekdays, as well as weekend breakfasts and lunches for pickup on Fridays. These meals are also available for adults, thanks to the Denver Public Schools Foundation.
Some Denver Parks and Recreation centers, including the Swansea and Johnson recreation centers in Elyria-Swansea, are also providing dinner to children up to 18 years old on weekdays.
This pandemic has an outsize impact on older adults, and access to affordable food is no exception. Our friends at Hunger Free Colorado, a nonprofit connecting families to food resources across the state, have put together a COVID-19 resource page. It contains detailed information about Coloradans’ food access options, updated regularly.
Lost City Coffee, Focus Points Family Resource Center and East Denver Food Hub have brought a “pay-how-you-can” weekly farmers market to the Globeville Elyria-Swansea (GES) community this harvest season, Wednesdays from 5-8 p.m.
This area of metro Denver is one of the largest food deserts in the country, meaning access to affordable, high-quality fresh food is limited. The “pay-how-you-can” model provides everyone affordable access to healthy, seasonal produce and other essential pantry items. A percentage of every purchase goes to a support fund that allows attendees to pay what they can afford, or receive items at no cost.
As Denver’s frontline anti-hunger organization, Metro Caring works with our community to meet people’s immediate need for nutritious food while building a movement to address the root causes of hunger. Visit their market for a wide variety of fresh, nutritious food at no cost. Their market is filled with fresh produce, dairy, meat and plenty of other items.
In response to the increased need to stay and learn at home, CSU Spur has compiled some of its favorite fun and free educational resources related to food, water and health. (Don’t miss the baby chick cam!)
Check out this YouTube playlist of some of the legendary performances at Red Rocks Amphitheatre over the years.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science may be closed, but they’re staying active and hope you are too! Their talented educator performer team (the folks facilitating shows and experiments in exhibitions and hosting virtual programs) created a list of their favorite at-home science activities. Visit dmns.org for ways to turn up the science with your family from home.
Join History Colorado as they explore the past through Hands-On History @ Home. History Colorado’s mission to inspire wonder in the past continues as they bring the museum to you through engaging crafts, tutorials, and storytelling. History Colorado’s museum professionals bring live daily activities at 10 a.m. MST, Mondays through Fridays, rooted in history to enrich your home learning experiences. Visit historycolorado.org.
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