Health News

May 1, 2012 7:27 PM by Matt Stafford

Southern Colorado hunger gap remains wide

166,790 people in southern Colorado aren't sure where their next meal is coming from; that's according to a national study from a group called Feeding America.

The group says these people are food insecure; they took a national look as well as a county-by-county perspective.

At Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, they say those 166,790 people make up 15 percent of the population they serve.

News 5 met up with Virginia Baltier on her weekly trip to Crossfire Ministries in Colorado Springs, where she picks up a food items to help her and her grandkids get through the week.

"Money is tight," says Baltier. "You have to pay your rent or you don't have a place to live. You have to pay utilities or they cut them off."

Sometimes the decision involves whether or not to put food on the table; Baltier works to make sure it gets there. Baltier makes 900 dollars each pay check, and she gets government help - like food stamps - but she says it's not enough.

"If' you didn't come here... (Crossfire Ministries)," News 5 asked Baltier.

"We're just going to have to starve," Baltier responds. "A lot of people are in the same boat."

Of the 166,790 people that Feeding America says are in that boat in southern Colorado, 55 percent of them get some government help, but that leaves close to half who don't.

"45% make too much money; they're our working poor," says Lynne Telford, president and CEO of Care and Share. "There's no government assistance for those people."

Telford and Care and Share distribute 18 million pounds of food across southern Colorado each year, but they say it could take three times that to fill our local hunger gap. They try to do that by keeping smaller groups and missions stocked up.

"I've carried as much as 900 pounds of food in one haul," says Connie Dunfee, a volunteer for Open Bible Medical Clinic. She's helping get food to people dealing with medical issues.

Also, the Feeding America study gives Care and Share a better perspective -- county by county -- of what's needed.

Eventually groups get it back in house, like to Crossfire Ministries, where it can get to people like Baltier.

"I appreciate it, and I thank God for it," says Baltier.

For more on the Map the Meal Gap study by Feeding America, click here.



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