Boulder-based food insecurity nonprofit Conscious Alliance broke a record in 2018, and that momentum carried into this year with a Louisville business's announcement it would give Conscious its largest-ever donation.
Conscious Alliance last year helped provide more than 700,000 meals, or about $1.9 million-worth of food, to children and families in need across the country, which set the organization's annual high mark since it was established in 2002.
Good news for the nonprofit arrived again shortly after the year's end.
In February, Conscious Alliance heard from Louisville's Bluebird Botanicals, which makes hemp-based oils containing the healing component of cannabis known as cannabidiol, or CBD, that the business would donate $100,000 to the nonprofit throughout 2019.
That is the largest monetary donation from a single business partner Conscious has ever received.
"It is important to us that we give back to our community and continue to make a positive impact in any way that we can, and we feel that Conscious Alliance is making a tangible difference in the lives of countless families," Bluebird founder and CEO Brandon Beatty stated in a news release.
Conscious Alliance was established in 2002 as a national nonprofit working to bring healthy food into underserved communities through its "Art That Feeds" food drives at concerts and musical festivals; the nonprofit hosted 112 "Art That Feeds" food drives in 19 states at festivals and concerts. It strives to get young people to volunteer time on food drives, and raises money through concert poster art sales, and has served nearly 3.5 million meals to families and children in need in dozens of communities across the U.S., according to its website.
Denver's Fillmore Auditorium show "The Big Melt" on Saturday night is where Conscious will kick off its annual membership drive, with musicians in the groups The String Cheese Incident, Lettuce, Big Gigantic and Thievery Corporation, among others, performing together.
A dollar is being donated to Conscious for every ticket sold and the ticket vendor will also match up to 10 membership commitments made at the show. Tickets can be bought at bit.ly/TheBigMelt.
"Conscious Alliance members are crucial in our mission to end childhood hunger," its Executive Director Justin Levy stated in a news release. "One in every six American children don't know when they'll get their next meal. Every dollar donated provides two meals for those in need, which means just $30 a month can have a huge impact."
While it works throughout the country, Conscious Alliance also directly benefits the families of more than 130 local children enrolled in the Boulder County Head Start program that provides low income families and children with disabilities a pre-kindergarten day care option for kids as young as 3.
Conscious Alliance has provided Head Start with organic fruit and vegetable smoothies and other healthy snacks that its participating families can have for free, and they are often consumed as an after-school snack. That has an added nutritional benefit at dinner time, according to Olivia Coyne, division manager for Head Start.
"As any parent knows, you have to have an after-school snack for your kids because they are starving then," Coyne said. "For a lot families the easiest thing is to pick up a bag of chips or a cookie. They use these (smoothies) as a healthy snack to get through to dinner. It buys our families time to cook something healthy and nutritious for supper. Many of our families also use them as a breakfast alternative in the morning."
Bluebird's donation will help nourish thousands of students on Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., and along Colorado's Front Range, a news release said. It will also assist a Conscious Alliance fundraising drive to finance the purchase or building of a food warehouse facility the nonprofit plans to establish locally — it currently shares warehouse space, and this newly planned building will bethe first food storage facility of its own.
"With a larger space that brings all of Conscious Alliance's programs into a more efficient and collaborative model, the nonprofit will be able to distribute more food to schools in the Denver metro area, in Pine Ridge and other communities in crisis that need support," Levy stated through a spokesperson.
But Bluebird's generosity extends beyond the monetary contribution.
The business has also committed to its employees volunteering time once a month from February onward to help sort food donated to Conscious Alliance to streamline the delivery process and ensure all donated food goes to use.
"For Conscious Alliance, the work of getting healthy food to communities in need never ends," Levy stated in a release. "2018 was a record-breaking year for us, but we need to surpass that in 2019 — the larger our impact, the more people we can support."
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, email@example.com and twitter.com/samlounz.