The idea of the no cost grocery program came about when Denver Food Rescue noticed gaps in the city’s food redistribution system. Through mapping and data research it was found that typical food pantries, shelters, and meal services served a narrow constituency contained to specific neighborhoods and city blocks. Additionally, most grocery stores and other food security organizations resided in higher income neighborhoods that also did not extend their services to other food insecure communities.
The DFR No Cost Grocery Program model exists to serve these otherwise overlooked neighborhoods with a realization that income is inversely proportional to consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Often low-income communities exhibit diet related diseases that can be avoided by increased consumption of fresh produce.
By utilizing fresh produce that would otherwise by thrown away from food vendors (grocery stores, farmer’s markets, food distribution centers) DFR directly redistributes this food to under-served and food desert neighborhoods.
In an attempt to keep our environmental impact and operational costs low, we focus on utilizing bicycles for the transportation of food. DFR provides bicycle trailers to our volunteers to complete the delivery shifts via bicycle.
When establishing a recipient community, it is vital that each neighborhood is in charge of their grocery program. Denver Food Rescue requires a partnership with a community organization that is made up of and has trust from the community members. Partner community organizations often employ residents of the area, and one community leader from each neighborhood with a Free Grocery Program is asked to join the Denver Food Rescue Board of Directors. This ensures that DFR is doing only the work for the community that is desired by the community.
Once established a No Cost Grocery Programs has the option of creating cooking and nutrition classes with the residents as a further resource for a healthy eating lifestyle.
In 2014, Denver Food Rescue established three No Cost Grocery programs in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, and Park Hill.
In 2017, we have grown to 14 No Cost Grocery Programs! Learn more about each community here.
A typical grocery program serves about 50 families every week, sending each one home with about a week’s worth of mainly fresh produce.