Mayor Michael Hancock’s office hosted a drive-thru event at Montbello Rec Center on Thursday, distributing free COVID-19 tests, food boxes, pet food and feminine hygiene products to community members.
“The need is here,” said Romaine Pacheco, a director with Hancock’s office. “You get families that say, ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to choose between feeding my family and feeding my pets.’ ”
Pacheco said cars started lining up before she arrived at 8 a.m., waiting for at least two hours before they opened to be sure they would get the food and supplies.
“This may be the only food their kids get,” Pacheco said.
Each family receives $400 worth of food and products. The team provides around 150 COVID-19 tests and gives away 60,000 lbs. of food each event day, said Matthew Karm, agency and special products manager of We Don’t Waste.
“We haven’t turned anybody away,” Karm said. “It’s literally the village taking care of the village.”
Volunteers, food and products come from the city’s partnerships with El Coco Pirata, We Don’t Waste, WeeCycle, Denver Rescue Mission, PepsiCo, Colorado Pet Pantry, Period Kits, Frito Lay and Hunger Free Colorado. Wellness Winnie and the Denver Fire Department provided the COVID-19 testing Thursday.
This is the 13th event distributing tests and resources, with one occurring each week all summer in different parts of Denver.
The event uses a contactless delivery system, placing boxes of food and supplies directly into the cars of families driving through. On average, they get around 350 cars a day and have had as many as 700 cars come through one event.
“These events are important because not only are we providing support and assistance to families who are facing the economic impacts of this pandemic, we’re also getting COVID-19 testing out into the communities that have been hit the hardest by this virus,” Hancock said.
In addition to food and supplies, the events also provide essential resources. On an average day, they help up to 150 people sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), providing long-term financial assistance.
“This is the most human thing we could be doing,” Karm said. “It provides so much comfort for those that are uncomfortable.”
These distribution events will continue through the end of September and into the fall as weather permits. The next event will be held in west Denver.
Details on the location and date will be posted to Hancock’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.