Reflecting on RMMAN's work in 2022
Published on December 21, 2022 by Tammy S
Rocky Mountain Mutual Aid Network had a great 2022! Thanks largely to our food rescue partner, Joy’s Kitchen, our steering committee, and our ever-growing crew of lovely volunteers, we delivered free groceries to over 800 households this year. In 2022, over 80 volunteers showed up in solidarity to increase food access across the Denver metro area for people who self-identify as disabled, immunocompromised/high risk, and/or seniors.
Both ourselves as the steering committee and our volunteers worked together to do everything from getting the word out on social media, writing grant proposals, assembling boxes, sorting groceries, coordinating volunteer shifts and logistics, and ensuring that our free grocery deliveries to homes across the Denver metro area happen on a weekly basis, in a smooth and timely fashion. We also continued into our second year of partnering with another mutual aid project, Denver Community Fridges, bringing weekly deliveries to their fridges around Denver, helping ensure they stayed stocked. These small but consistent wins are reminders of what we can do when we work together to create better, more just systems of care and support.
With rising inflation and the continued impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic increasing food scarcity for many communities, one of our major goals for 2022 was to expand our delivery service area. We began looking for a source of food that was centrally located to make it convenient for our volunteers to pick up boxes for distribution. In early August, we ran a trial week with East Denver Food Hub (EDFH), where we purchased locally-sourced boxes of groceries and produce. Their mission is to source from over 35 local producers and collaborate with other food hubs in the community and to prioritize and amplify Black, Indigenous, and Person of Color (BIPOC) Owned Farms. However at the time did not have the finances to maintain that operation on a weekly basis. We then committed to fundraising and recruiting volunteers to make our expansion plan a reality for our organization, as soon as possible.
The folks at EDFH suggested we apply for a Colorado Food Pantry Assistance Grant and much to our surprise, we were selected to receive a $10,000 grant to expand our food delivery program and source more locally grown food. The funding has allowed us to begin purchasing produce and groceries from East Denver Food Hub, as of this past month. Their Montbello location in East Denver gives us the opportunity to expand our current reach. We are very excited to be serving more East Denver/Aurora households and expanding our organizational and volunteer reach, as well!
The funding raised through our Open Collective account has also helped our organization immensely, bridging the gap in times when we were unable to deliver all the requested grocery boxes ourselves, for one reason or another. Commercial deliveries directly from grocery stores are an occasional necessity for us and we couldn’t do it without the generous contributions from our donors!
Since volunteer sign ups can fluctuate so unpredictably, we plan to do more volunteer recruitment in 2023. As a mostly white-led group, we would like to figure out ways to build a more diverse team in an authentic way. We are slowly building more relationships with local groups and organizations that we have identified, who have similar values to us, so we can continue finding opportunities to collaborate so that this work to increase food access and end food apartheid in our communities can continue to grow in a sustainable way.