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Volunteer Kevin Morris fills boxes with vegetables for clients in May at the Community Food Share in Louisville. The food bank’s annual Corporate Challenge runs through this month. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)
Volunteer Kevin Morris fills boxes with vegetables for clients in May at the Community Food Share in Louisville. The food bank’s annual Corporate Challenge runs through this month. (Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)
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Community Food Share has teamed up with local businesses through its annual Corporate Challenge, which has helped the food bank provide groceries and meals to food-insecure families for 25 years.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Louisville-based food bank is experiencing record high numbers of community members in both Boulder and Broomfield counties that need its services this summer.

Many families and individuals who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program or the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program in Boulder and Broomfield County turn to Community Food Share during the summer months.

These months were lengthened when the pandemic forced early school closures and caused work disruptions, causing a huge increase in demand, according to Community Food Share’s Chief Development Officer Dina Coates Koebler. The Corporate Challenge, which runs through this month, has become increasingly important to meet these needs.

“No one is immune to this pandemic, its impact on employees and the businesses at large,” Coates Koebler said. “Looking forward, we expect at least a 35% increase in demand, so we are operating way over capacity.”

Community Food Share’s Feeding Families program has seen a 15% increase in demand while the food bank’s mobile pantries have seen nearly 29%, and the food bank already had to purchase three and a half times more food than previous summers. The food bank is hoping that with the Corporate Challenge it can meet these increases because nobody has an idea of when the pandemic will end, Coates Koebler said.

One of 26 companies that joined this year’s Corporate Challenge is Cardinal Peak, of Lafayette.

“Due to the pandemic, a lot of families are facing food insecurity for the first time. We wanted to do everything we could to help the cause. We challenged ourselves to dig deep and really pitch in for the community,” CEO Mark Carrington said in a statement.

Ball Aerospace, based in Broomfield, has donated the most so far, with enough money to pay for 1.2 million meals.

“We could not be more appreciative to these 26 companies,” Coates Koebler said. “They are thinking beyond themselves to the communities at large.”

May was the fourth consecutive month that Community Food Share distributed over a million pounds of food. In April, it distributed 1.2 million pounds of food, the largest amount distributed in a single month since the organization started 39 years ago, including in the aftermath of the devastation caused by the 2013 Colorado floods.

“We are anticipating a very challenging nine months or so, ” Coates Koebler said. “We are also experiencing delays in the food supply chain; some of those delays can be anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks.”

A specific contributor to the increase in need for food assistance was Boulder and Broomfield counties transferring to online schooling because of the pandemic. More than 14,000 students are enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs, all of which expected to receive them until the end of the school year. It puts weight on families that usually rely on schools and now have to compensate.

Every dollar donated to Community Food Share pays for five dollars worth of groceries for families in need. If a business donates $1,000, that provides groceries for 75 families.

“Kudos to every one of the companies that are engaging in the Corporate Challenge,” said Coates Koebler.

Local businesses can join the challenge by emailing Katriñe Arnedo at karnedo@communityfoodshare.org.

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