EPNRC is partnering with the American Legion Post 119 and the Town of Estes Park to bring meals to the community during COVID-19. Mary Banken, Vice President of the Post 119 Charitable Foundation Board and Laurie Dale Marshall, Executive Director, Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center answer questions about this community endeavor.
Whose wild idea was this?!
LDM: In conversations with partners in town already providing meals and food access, and learning how those numbers were already climbing, it became clear that a growing need for food would emerge as this crisis continued. Basically, two Laurie’s started talking.
Why does the community need this extension of the food network?
LDM: As more of our neighbors and friends are impacted by diminished income due to the crisis, it’s vital to lessen the stressor of food access and ensure security exists for all of us. This site is to serve those who might otherwise not fit into a category of service or eligibility already offered by other food access providers, namely the Estes Park Schools and Crossroads Ministry. This site is for all of us, anyone in need of a hot meal and a boost to the spirit. The Town of Estes Park recognized this and funded the program to make sure no one had the worry of feeding themselves or their families.
How many meals did you plan to give away?
LDM: We estimated providing 400 additional meals to the community with each distribution. This number is based on projections of those impacted by lay-offs and with lessened income during this crisis.
What is the response so far? Are you seeing more or less cars drive through than you thought?
LDM: The first week, over 650 meals were provided. On Friday’s, we’re distributing a Weekend Bag with a stretchable entree, baked goods, and something fresh.
How is the Legion a good partner for this?
MB: This is a great fit for the Legion for several reasons. First, it aligns beautifully with the Legion’s recently re-energized commitment to support the Estes Park Community. Second, it is a marvelous initiation for our newly remodeled kitchen. Chef John Marshall does his magic with our new appliances and preparation tables. It also provides an opportunity to use up some of the food that had been purchased in anticipation of other events. It provides a way to recover the overhead costs for the Legion that are continuing even though our social club is closed. And finally, it is an opportunity for our Legion members to volunteer for a truly meaningful experience.
How long will this go on?
LDM: Our current funding from the Town Community Relief Fund is budgeted to provide meals through April and will be evaluated at that time. However, we have many skilled volunteers from the culinary field and with the generosity of donors, we hope to continue as long as it is needed in the community.
How can people support this program?
MB: Drop funds off at the Legion site, or mail them to PO Box 127, Estes Park CO 80517, or donate online at https://esteslegion.org/donate-now. Please be sure to note in the memo that your contribution is intended for Hot Meals.