PBS News Story Highlights Need for Food Pantries, Even in Affluent Communities

While the majority of this video is about perceptions of wealth inequality in the United States, I was particularly struck by the comments of Denise Barrant. (Scroll to 6:20 – 8:00 to see the interview with Ms. Barrant.) I grew up a few towns away from where she lives, just on the other side of the Charles River, and I am very familiar with the community where she lives. As Ms. Barrant mentioned, Newton is a predominantly wealthy community, but Ms. Barant was laid off from her well-paying job and her home is in foreclosure. She lives in constant anxiety about when she will have to leave her home, not knowing where she can go. In the meantime, she is still in her home, but unable to pay her bills. While there are pantries in nearby towns, she struggles to find local community-based organizations that can meet her needs in the town where she lives.

This is an all too familiar story across the nation, and particularly here in Colorado. We have heard from many clients struggling to make ends meet in all parts of Colorado, including Douglas county and other communities not known for poverty. The barriers to accessing food resources in more affluent communities can be great. I will never forget a call I received last summer from a mother in Highlands Ranch who was struggling to provide nutritious food while her children were on summer vacation. She explained to me that the nearest summer food site was several miles away, and due to a disability she could not drive or take public transportation.

As we continue to see more and more families losing their jobs and struggling in the recession, how can we ensure access to food, even in communities that formerly has little need for community-based resources? How can we better target our outreach to inform these communities?

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