Longmont nonprofit OUR Center is focused on providing a hand up for individuals in the community who are experiencing hardship. That support is made up of a wide range of services, including child care assistance, adult education, personal development classes, family law resources, rent and utility assistance and much more. Food access and nutrition are also a core component of the OUR Center mission. “Healthy food is part of self-care and essential to becoming self-sufficient,” says Kevin Rescigno, a registered dietician and the food service director at the OUR Center. “Once a participant has the ability to nourish themselves, they will be able to branch out to the other aspects of wellness in their life.”
According to the USDA, in 2023, all food prices are predicted to increase 5.8 percent. This is in addition to SNAP benefits and Medicaid coverage being cut from hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. OUR Center is endeavoring to bridge this gap by providing nutrient rich products and fresh produce at The Community Market and warm, nutritious meals at The Community Cafe.
The cafe, which serves breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. on weekdays and lunch daily from 11:30 to 1 p.m., receives food from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and donations from the community. The Community Market sources food from local producers using the Food Pantry Assistance Grant (FPAG), Community Food Share, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and donations from the community. “We are also fortunate enough to have relationships with local grocery stores in Longmont that donate products daily,” says Rescigno. “OUR Center began with the help of churches and continues to get support from these congregations.” Both the market and cafe also receive fresh produce from the OUR Center on-site garden, which is managed and cared for by Master Gardener volunteer Dudley.
The Market also provides an opportunity for families to discuss their situation with a staff member trained in resource networking. “We pride ourselves in building a connection with those who come to use our services,” says Rescigno. Bill Storinger is a volunteer who supports shoppers at the Community Market. “Our job is to greet clients and help them feel welcomed, respected, and honored,” he says. “I show them how we distribute food and let them choose what they would want from the Market.”
Not only do the market and cafe at OUR Center provide important nutritional essentials for those in need, but this support also generates another important asset: time. “If money is tight for families, they may opt to make less nutritious choices solely on price and time,” says Rescigno. “This leaves many essential nutrients out of food insecure individuals. Expenses and inflation are causing people to take on more jobs which leaves less time for cooking. Our goal is to increase the amount of time families are able to sit down together and share a nutritious meal.”
The Community Market is open to shoppers Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.; Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m; and Tuesdays from 1 to 5:30 p.m. For more information about OUR Center and its services, visit ourcenter.org.
By Emma Castleberry | Longmont Magazine