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The Gift of Unity through Service

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Hannah Staller

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the food. Big family dinners, endless sweets, warm soups and fluffy breads put me in a festive mood. However, as I celebrate with my family this holiday season, I remember that access to an

abundant and healthy food source is a privilege not everyone in our community enjoys. I often take knowing where my next meal will come from for granted. I do not have to worry how I will feed my family, or whether we will have enough to eat at the end of
the month. Unfortunately, food security is not a reality for everyone in our community, for a myriad of reasons. One in seven Coloradans experience food insecurity every day, meaning they are unable to access a constant, healthy, and culturally appropriate diet. In 2012, 18% of children under 18 in El Paso country lived in poverty, with insufficient access to food.

Many organizations are devoted to alleviating this incredible burden, providing food to those who need it most. In northern El Paso County, Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) reduces the number of people without access to food in our community through a number of programs. Tri-Lakes Cares began in 1984 with a group of volunteers running a small food pantry. From there, the organization grew, and it now offers several food assistance programs in addition to support for medical, clothing, housing, and employment needs. Tri-Lakes Cares combats food insecurity through their pantry and Help Yourself programs, supplemental groceries for seniors,


 

and a weekend “snack pack” program for students. Last year, TLC’s food programs provided over 151,000 lbs. of food to households in need.  Eradicating food insecurity and poverty requires

long-term planning and solutions. In the meantime, organizations like Tri-Lakes Cares fill crucial and immediate needs that cannot wait for future solutions.

Tri-Lakes Cares began when a group of community members came together with the goal of helping their neighbors through hard times. In thirty years, the organization evolved from a group of volunteers to a staff of six full time and 11 part time employees. Since 1984, Tri-Lakes Cares remained relevant and full of passionate volunteers, whose numbers now reach over 225. As we celebrate another holiday season, it’s important to remember what a group of people can accomplish when they unite to improve their community and support their neighbors.