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Food Bank of the Rockies compiles 'culturally familiar' foods for arriving migrants

Food delivered to migrants
Posted at 9:20 PM, May 25, 2023

DENVER — While arrivals of migrants to Denver has slowed in recent days, according to outreach organizations, dozens continue to arrive each day, according to the city’s dashboard.

The city has said it cannot meet the growing need on its own, with more than 1,200 currently sheltered in city facilities and by other organizations.

Food Bank of the Rockies has been tailoring emergency relief bags for migrants to include “culturally familiar” foods to help them feel at home as they transition to life in a new place.

Every day now for weeks, volunteers with partner organization Vive Wellness have delivered the emergency relief bags to migrants as they arrive in and depart from Denver through Union Station. Volunteers also help to answer questions and translate as migrants navigate their trips.

“Some of them will have three, four stops — and so you’re talking about two days, two and a half days of traveling without anything,” said Yoli Casas, executive director of Vive Wellness. “And so, once we go over the itinerary with them, we actually give them some snacks. We’ve got snacks that will last a few days.”

The boxes and bags of goods from Food Bank of the Rockies are nothing new, but their new unique mix of Latin American foods have been well received as individuals arrive and depart, Casas said.

According to Food Bank of the Rockies, it is now packaging from seven different ingredient lists crafted from various cultures. Specific types of rice and beans, corn husks, masa flour, chili peppers, plantain chips, and tortillas are now regular staples, alongside travel snacks.

“It makes you remember home, makes you remember warm feelings,” Casas said of the cultural foods. “It’s food that you’re used to, a food that you like. So, it really helps a lot.”

Food Bank of the Rockies has provided more than 2,500 emergency relief bags for incoming migrants so far, and has relied on its partner organizations to distribute them at shelters and bus stations. With rising need community wide and rising costs of food, the organization needs help more than ever, Executive Director Erin Pulling said.

“We can’t do this alone. We’ve already been hit with record inflation and record need,” Pulling said. “We’re hearing from food banks around the country that they’re seeing increased needs similar to what Food Bank of the Rockies is seeing. They’re also welcoming neighbors from the southern border, and many are experiencing the same things with record food inflation. And now, this is another increase. So, we’re all together depending on the generosity of our community.”

If you are interested in volunteering or donating to Food Bank of the Rockies, you can learn more on the organization’s website.

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