Food Bank of the Rockies helps needy in Colorado

Global Business

Food Bank of the Rockies is a busy place. The nonprofit’s mission is ensuring that families in the states of Colorado and Wyoming have enough to eat. It hands out 145,000 meals a day and more than 27 million kilos (5.5 million pounds) of food each year. The need is clearly there.
CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports. 

“In Colorado right now, one in 10 people are struggling to put food on the table and the situation is even worse for children,” said Janie Gianotsos, Food Bank of the Rockies’ Marketing Director. “It’s one in six kids that live in food-insecure homes.”

The organization relies on donations from retailers, wholesalers and the U.S. government.

“We try to make sure we never have empty shelves,” Gianotsos said.

Suddenly more food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is part of the mix here. Under the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, food is regularly purchased from farmers and donated to relief agencies like food banks.

Now, an additional $1.2 billion in tariff-affected commodities are being bought and distributed. It’s part of a $12 billion package of agricultural aid provided by the Trump Administration to help cushion the damage done by tariffs.

“It’s a win-win,” Gianotsos said. “However you feel about politics, by helping farmers and helping people in need, at least it’s a good result here for us.”

Pork, apples, pistachios and dairy make up a chunk of the $1.2 billion purchase.

“We’re pleased that it did occur,” said Dale McCall, President of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. He said at a time of overabundance of crops in America and with so many hungry people to feed, the aid package, which some have termed a bailout, is a good thing. But he considers it a stop-gap measure.

“We don’t like the word bailout,” McCall said. “And you know the public perception sometimes is, well, that problem’s been taken care of and it really hasn’t.”

McCall said tariffs have hurt crop prices and farm exports. He believes a broader safety net for farmers and ranchers is the real answer. But he added agricultural relief may come just in time for some of them.

“It helps some individuals that because of that may be able to continue to farm next year,” McCall said.

“And so if we had to pick the lesser of two evils, I suppose taking the payment was just that,” said Marc Arnusch, a Colorado farmer.

McCall worries that the current trade disputes could take several years to resolve.

“If it takes that long to work out all these trade deals and get some stability back in the markets for agricultural commodities, that’s going to be devastating,” he said.

“We’re really glad that if they’re being affected by these tariffs that there is a solution out there,” Gianotsos said.

It’s one solution that will put food on the table for some and perhaps keep others, who produced it, in business, at least for a while.