Bienvenidos has been serving Northwest Denver since 1976, and while Denver has grown and changed, so have they. I sat down for a (virtual) chat with, Executive Director Greg Pratt, last week to discuss the current status of their operations. Bienvenidos operates a variety of programs to support the community including its storefront market on 38th and Pecos and a mobile food pantry. With the simple mission that no family goes hungry, they serve about 10,000 clients every year.
“The main obstacle this year has been unpredictability,” Greg pointed out. This includes the unpredictability of donations from both small canned food drives and grocery stores. When these donations are limited, Greg purchases more groceries. They also see fluctuations in the number of clients they see and what services they use. Their mobile pantry has seen a 45% increase in clients since March and at their storefront market, they have seen many new faces as well. One of Greg’s main concerns is elderly clients, who now don’t feel safe leaving home. In order to reach more people, they have expanded their home delivery program and are creating food distribution pop ups in the surrounding neighborhoods. Meanwhile, COVID has majorly reduced their volunteer staff requiring them to hire more employees.
“Winter months ahead might be some of the hardest times,” Greg warns. The first relief bill helped a lot of clients and much of that support is slated to end starting this month, through the end of the year. January is always the time of year they see an increase in clients in a regular year, so your support means more than ever now.
For Thanksgiving this year, Generator is hoping to collect enough donations to allow Bienvenidos to include a gift card in every one of the meal boxes they distribute. Bienvenidos expects to serve about 250 families this season. To help us reach our goal, and have your donation matched, donate to our Generator Thanksgiving Drive fund here.