Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: LiftUp focus, needs changing | SteamboatToday.com

Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: LiftUp focus, needs changing

Jeff Modesitt and Sue Fegelein/For Steamboat Today

Steamboat Springs is a beautiful place to live and work. It is also very expensive, so it's no surprise the cost-of-living index is significantly higher in Steamboat than other places in the country. Routt County has a high percentage of working families and individuals, who often hold down two or three jobs to make ends meet.

LiftUp of Routt County provides charitable assistance to meet basic human needs, while promoting personal growth and self-sufficiency. Our mission changed recently to include a focus on self-sufficiency. Our community support programs impact the lives of one in 10 Routt County residents annually. LiftUp's financial needs have also changed with the changing needs of community members.

What needs have changed? First and foremost is food. Last year, LiftUp distributed approximately $600,000 worth of food and provided children with healthy snacks through its Rocket Pack program. There are more than 800 food-insecure children in Routt County. LiftUp began in 2016 serving 153 children in the Rocket Pack program and now serves more than 500 in the program. We are dedicated to serving every hungry child in Routt County.

So far in 2017, LiftUp has distributed in excess of 53,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables and expects to distribute substantially more nutritious food this year than last. Our food programs include Grocery and Restaurant Rescue, Adopt a Shelf, Grow a Row, ProDo Drives and community food drives. We are building a community garden/hoop house to grow fresh vegetables year round. LiftUp collaborates with other nonprofits, including CSU Extension, and for-profit agribusinesses to promote economic development, job creation and local food stability in an effort to build a local food hub to benefit us all.

The next changing community need is emergency housing assistance. Because we have such a large percentage of working, low-income clients, any unexpected event can threaten housing stability. LiftUp regularly addresses emergency situations for working families in Routt County when their ability to work has been temporarily impacted.

LiftUp also provides emergency funding assistance with health care costs, transportation issues, clothing, special needs, job placement and training.

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We need you. To help address the demand of those in need, LiftUp relies upon the community. LiftUp has 149 volunteers in Hayden, Oak Creek and Steamboat and is in need of more assistance. Simply put, the more time and energy that is volunteered, the more LiftUp's resources can be used to address the needs of the community. LiftUp relies on the donation of gently used goods, which are sold in its Thrift Store. Thrift Store sales support LiftUp's community support programs.

To meet changing times, LiftUp is trying a new idea: a boutique corner within the store named "Elevated Emporium," dedicated to the higher-end items donated to LiftUp. We are also repricing a few non-basic need items by a small increase of 25 to 50 cents each. LiftUp hasn't changed its prices in years, so these small adjustments will help ensure LiftUp can fulfill its mission. We also currenly have the chance to double donors' dollars with a $63,000 matching grant. These funds will help pay down the costs associated with LiftUp's recent expansion, which will free up more funds to be used for community support.

To learn more about Liftup's programs, call 970-870-8804, visit liftuprc.org or stop by 2095 or 2125 Curve Court in Steamboat.

Jeff Modesitt is community support manager and Sue Fegelein is executive director of Liftup of Routt County. Liftup is an active member of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition.

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