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With the generous support of gifts from two anonymous donors, The Denver Foundation has supported three food pantry collaboratives, working together to improve the delivery of emergency food in their communities.

Following three years of grant for front-line organizations serving the hungry through its Critical Needs Fund, The Denver Foundation recognized an opportunity to support more than just food pantries' pressing needs to stock their shelves. The emergency food delivery system was straining, and it seemed that by working together in new and deeper ways, food pantry collaboratives could become stronger and better meet community needs.

The Denver Foundation initiated the Food Pantry Partnership Project (FP3) with a Request for Proposals released in March 2011, and grants awarded several months later. The Foundation’s hope for FP3 was to foster local demonstration sites that through collaboration, would 1) change the way emergency food is obtained and provided; 2) improve food pantry operations; 3) use more client-centered approaches; 4) offer more nutritious food; and 5) provide opportunities for shared learning.

The Denver Foundation funded three separate formal food pantry collaboratives to initiate changes in the delivery of food and advance the use of best practices within the emergency food delivery system. The three collaboratives spanned the Metro Denver area: Food Exchange Resource Network (FERN) in Southwest Denver, the Jefferson County Mountain Area Partnership (JCMAP), and the Boulder County Collaborative (BCC). Each of these collaboratives was committed to doing work together that they could not do alone and demonstrated a focus on the collective benefit to the community as a whole.

Over 18 months, FP3 grants covered minor capital costs, technology expenses, coordination, facilitation, evaluation, outreach, work with other pantries, operating costs, staff care, and the establishment of client-centered practices. The Denver Foundation also engaged a project consultant to lead and manage the project and evaluation consultants to support process analysis.

Read the full Food Pantry Partnerships Report [PDF].