GRAND JUNCTION, CO – To local activists distributing food to anyone who requests it at the Grand Junction Mutual Aid’s food distribution site, food insecurity is directly connected to social justice.
“People ask me when we’ll stop doing this,” volunteer David Hood said as he surveyed the spread of food donations dropped off by supporters and laid out on folding tables in the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church parking lot on Ouray Avenue. “I tel them, ‘When everyone’s been fed.'”
Since early March, just before the full force of the economic shutdown rolled over the Valley, the Mutual Aid group’s small but dedicated group of volunteers have been collecting donations of food and household goods at the church every Tuesday morning from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Masked volunteers don gloves and carefully wipe down each donation, then organize them on folding tables in a shady corner of the parking lot.
Donations of canned goods with pop-up tabs (for easy access for those without kitchens or even kitchen supplies like can openers), bread, fresh produce, biscuits, pasta, rice, dried beans, cereal, bags of granola, cookies, cases of bottled water, and even packed lunches are welcome. Supporters have contributed diapers of all sizes, toiletries, sanitary napkins, small kitchen tools, pet food, and sundry other items. The local food bank often drops off surplus donations as well.
Anyone is welcome to stop by during the distribution hours and request food, no questions asked. Although distribution officially doesn’t begin until 11:00 am, to give the volunteers time to sanitize the food packages and sort them on the tables, inevitably a smattering of visitors arrive early. Early on Tuesday morning, an elderly man “shopped” with a plastic shopping bag, carefully scanning the tables of food before settling on a bag of onions, a bag of applies, a couple of oranges, and a lunch bag containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, and a water bottle.
Around 10:30 am, several volunteers had up a simple outdoor tent for a “soup table”, where another local volunteer prepared homemade soup. A few minutes later another volunteer arrived with her own supplies. She’s offering free hair cuts.
For now, the group is spreading the word about the food distribution via Facebook and other online platforms, but Hood said they’re looking for other ways to promote it more widely. He and the others recognize that for many families and individuals battling food insecurity, access to computers and the Internet is limited.
Every Tuesday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 536 Ouray Avenue.
Volunteers request that donations be limited to items that can be disinfected, such as dry goods and packaged items.
The public is welcome to stop by between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Plastic shopping bags will be distributed. When you arrive, please ask a volunteer for assistance in selecting and packaging items.