ALAMOSE – Bread shelves. Potato bins. Crates of squash, radishes, peppers, oranges and rows of preserves lined up on the shelves. It looks like any other small grocery store run by a group of people who care about what they do.
There is just a big difference. This is not a grocery store shop, itself, but it’s clearly a place where people shop. And, as the sign on the building’s facade indicates, it’s part of the La Puente Food Bank Network, made up of 15 pantries spread throughout the San Luis Valley. .
This was the environment where John Lee, Spectrum’s Senior Director of Government Affairs and Neal Gilb, Spectrum’s Director of Government Affairs joined State Rep. Donald Valdez, Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman and Executive Director of La Puente Lance Cheslock for presenting a check for $5,000 and 15 brand new Chromebooks from Spectrum
Prior to the presentation, Annalize Baer, Director of the La Puente Food Bank Network, provided a brief overview of the scope of the 15 pantries that make up the food bank network. “Each year, we serve approximately 10,000 unique individuals, including approximately 30,000 to 40,000 multiple visits. This totals approximately 300,000 visits to our pantries each year. »
As Baer describes it, the organization has two priorities: nutrition and dignity.
“Our nutrition policy guides the foods we buy, ensuring that all money spent is on healthy foods,” she says. The program is also supported by other efforts such as the Vegies program, the “Cleanup” program where people collect vegetables from fields that have been left behind and the Rio Grande Farm Park which is an ongoing partner in providing fresh products.
Dignity is also essential. “We don’t do a means test,” Baer says. “The points people can use to get food are based on the number of people in their family, and the food selection allows people to make choices that match their preferences and culture.”
She also adds that the enormous amount of work in progress is accomplished by more than sixty volunteers with only two paid staff.
“Thank you very much,” she told Lee and Gilb. “Your donation could not have come at a better time.”
John Lee was very complimentary about what he saw in action within the food bank network.
“It is very clear that the support offered here is vital for this region and the surrounding communities,” he says. “No amount of federal spending can match the strength of the boots on the ground doing the work that needs to be done.”
Referring to the donation of Chromebooks, Lee spoke of similar goals – to support the provision of necessary services to those who need assistance, particularly through the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal program available through Spectrum that provides eligible individuals and their family a monthly payment of $30 credit on their Internet bill.
“The Internet is needed for everything these days – telehealth, school, communicating with someone via email. It is in all aspects of life.
Cheslock also expressed his thanks, commenting on the timing of the donation and the multiple ways the Chromebooks will be used, first focusing on families with children who need internet access for schools, then providing it. one or two to street workers who will benefit from their portability to retrieve forms when working with people in the places where they have chosen to seek refuge.