Hunger Matters


Hunger is a problem here in western Colorado, where one in two children qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch and one in eight residents do not know where their next meal may be coming from. For the past several years, our Community Foundation has been working on expanding hunger relief efforts, including the development of summer mobile meal programs (the Lunch Lizard in Mesa County and the Meal Monkey in Garfield County) and providing funding and technical assistance to address unmet needs and expand programs. In 2021, the Mesa County Blueprint to End Hunger was released, a local action plan developed with the Mesa County Hunger Alliance to better address hunger in the Grand Valley. Our Community Foundation is proud to work with the various hunger relief entities working to support households and individuals across our region; though there is more work to be done, we are very pleased with the accomplishments we have made together and are looking forward to the future.

Hunger Leadership Initiatives Supported by WCCF

Mesa County Blueprint to End Hunger

Mesa County has a plan to end hunger! Inspired by the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger , Mesa County developed its own Mesa County Blueprint to End Hunger, thanks to funding from the Colorado Health Foundation and great engagement from the Mesa County Hunger Alliance.

Mesa County Blueprint to End Hunger

Key Goals Include

Mesa County Hunger Alliance

Critical to addressing food insecurity is the Mesa County Hunger Alliance, a coalition of over 20 agencies and organizations working in hunger relief, which is poised to facilitate collaboration to address hunger in Mesa County.

WCCF staff is available to make presentations on hunger in our community and share progress from our action plans. Please contact us with any questions.

For more information about Mesa County Hunger Alliance

Supporting Food Recovery Efforts

Forty percent of food that is produced for consumption in the United States is wasted each year. This includes food that is never harvested or brought to market due to imperfections, as well as food items that sit too long in consumer refrigerators and end up spoiling. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates this is about 125 billion pounds of food in the United States that goes uneaten. The Environmental Protection Agency‘s Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent and divert wasted food.

Our Community Foundation is pleased to support programs that have implemented creative solutions to keep food out of the landfill and into the bellies of those who are hungry, including Sodexo Dining Services at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Mesa County Valley School District 51. Our Community Foundation provided Sodexo at St. Mary’s Medical Center with funding for specialized equipment needed to support food recovery efforts. Colorado Mesa University and Sodexo Dining Services on campus have also long been working to keep unserved food from going to the landfill. Freshly prepared, yet unserved, foods are packaged for those in need within the CMU community. In 2020, our Community Foundation further supported food recovery in our community with a grant to HomewardBound to purchase a refrigerated food truck to handle their myriad food donation pick-ups from local grocery stores and institutions including St. Mary’s.

Alleviating Child Hunger

WCCF’s first leadership initiative was to address childhood hunger, an issue that impacts hundreds of children and their ability to learn. An estimated 50 million Americans do not know where their next meal will come from, amounting to 1 in 6 Americans. This impacts children right here in Colorado – with estimates of 1 in 6 children not knowing when or where they will get their next meal. Nearly 60% of Colorado teachers report that they have students who regularly come to school hungry. Studies show that when children are not receiving proper nutrition, they fall behind and stay behind their peers. Students have difficulty focusing, causing for lost instruction time within the classroom.

Since 2012, WCCF has been identifying innovative solutions to address child hunger in our communities and providing funding to hunger relief organizations to help them better meet community needs. In 2015, after learning about gaps in services through meetings with school district employees, parents, stakeholders and child hunger organizations, WCCF partnered with Mesa County Valley School District 51’s Food and Nutrition Services to pilot the Lunch Lizard, bringing free summer meals to low-income neighborhoods to ensure kids have access to a nutritious lunch during the summer months.


Lunch Lizard

Summer Mobile Meals Program

Interested in starting a summer mobile meals program in your community?

Click here to refer to the links

“There are children in our community that without school lunch, may not have enough food during the summer. The Meal Monkey is our way to make sure any child without food can come to the parks and eat lunch for FREE. Western Colorado Community Foundation’s generosity has helped us get our new food truck to be able to serve even more children in need of healthy food. I can’t say how much we appreciate them!”

Mary McPhee, Food and Nutrition Services Director, Garfield School District Re-2




If you are in need of food assistance, please see Western Colorado 211 for resources, which provides Food Program and Resource flyers.

Hunger News


Keep up with the latest news on addressing hunger

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