The law firm of Franklin D. Azar & Associates is proud to announce that it’s joined a growing team of sponsors of an innovative program in southern Colorado, a grass-roots effort that delivers forty-pound boxes of joy to Las Animas County residents hit hard by the pandemic and job layoffs.
Last spring the folks at Trinidad’s Mount Carmel Wellness and Community Center came up with a plan for tackling cases of food insecurity and hunger in the county, problems that had been exacerbated by the economic shutdown related to COVID-19. Rather than simply serving hot meals to walk-ins at the nonprofit, staffers recognized that they could have a bigger impact by providing boxes of fresh food — enough food in each box to provide a week’s worth of meals for a family of four.
Launched in March, the food box program started out distributing ten boxes of food a week. Then twenty. Then thirty. The program has provided tens of thousands of nutritious meals to Trinidad’s neediest residents, at a cost that averages out to about $100 to $120 a box (less than five bucks a meal). Each box contains a week’s worth of breakfast cereals, eggs, milk, cheese, fresh fruit and produce, several pounds of meat, whole-grain bread, long-grain rice, pasta, and other healthy foods. Included are recipes offering a range of meal preparation choices — as well as toothbrushes and floss, puzzles and coloring books for the kids, and more.
“It’s kind of a well-rounded box,” notes Ashley Di Paola, the community center manager. “It’s been great. We’ve been so humbled to be able to help the community this way.”
Mount Carmel orders in bulk from its vendor (which keeps the cost down) and takes delivery on Monday. By Tuesday morning, the boxes are ready to go. The center delivers boxes to those who can’t travel but also provides contact-less pickup to others. The recipients include seniors, military veterans, and others who’ve been brought to the center’s attention through health clinic and church referrals, school officials, or word of mouth. Di Paola mentions one woman who was just about to head out to the grocery store to spend her last ten dollars on food for her children when the first food box arrived.
The effort has been funded in part by COVID relief grants, Catholic Dioceses Rice Bowl, the El Pomar Foundation, Albertson’s, United Way of Pueblo County, Colorado DHS Food Pantry Assistance, Colorado Blueprint End Hunger, and the Azar law firm. But the program has also attracted donations from individual supporters around the state.
You can help, too. If you would like to learn more about the Mount Carmel food box program, visit the nonprofit’s website at mtcarmelcenter.org. You can donate by clicking on the “support” link or by sending a check to the Mount Carmel Wellness and Community Center (911 Robinson Avenue, Trinidad, CO 81082) or by calling 1-719-845-4877.