As you know, I am passionate about “all things food.” That means also focusing on people and situations where there is a lack of food. Food insecurity is often defined as a lack of consistent access to food. This situation might be temporary or for a long time.

There are many causes of food insecurity, such as not having a job, living in a location without grocery stores nearby, lack of money, health issues, no transportation, etc. Across the country, many working families have to choose between basic household bills and food.

In Mesa County alone, 42% of school-aged children qualify for free breakfasts and lunches.

This valley has a great network of support for people in need of food. District 51 provides meals daily to children during the school year and has the Lunch Lizard buses that go to neighborhoods during the breaks.

Several food banks — such as The Community Food Bank — provide food for people during times of emergencies.

Other charities such as Catholic Outreach and HomewardBound have food for people available each day.

One organization that is particularly close to my heart is Meals on Wheels. During the pandemic, even more people have been affected by a lack of access to healthy and affordable food.

When the pandemic hit, I decided I wanted to volunteer with a nonprofit food organization. I reached out to Meals on Wheels to see if they needed any volunteers. (They did and they still do!) I was impressed with their food and safety protocols and signed up to be a weekly food driver.

Each week, I deliver lunch to 20 delightful people who are over 60 and in need of hot, fresh and nutritious foods.

There is no income requirement, and the goal is to provide good food to help their foundation of health.

It is a joy and a privilege for me to check in on people and make sure they are doing OK and to bring them a tasty meal.

For many people, this food will be their only meal of the day. Meals on Wheels in the valley feeds approximately 700 people each day Monday through Friday. They have more than 300 volunteers and 11 employees.

It is a massive — and impressive — organization. Many of their volunteers have been there 10 to 20 years.

If you or someone you know is in need of food, please contact Meals on Wheels at 970-243-9844 or the Western Colorado 211 website. You will be able to access a variety of help and services. Healthy and accessible food is an incredibly critical part of life. Our valley has so many people ready to help.

And if you are looking for charities to support, please donate and/or volunteer your time to help our community. You will find it a terrific opportunity in life.

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Christine Gallagher writes a regular food column, All About Food, that appears the first Friday of each month in the pages of Out & About. Email her at allthingsfoodchristine@gmail.com.