I wipe the sweat away from under my mask, take a swig of Gatorade, and get back to work breaking down boxes at Re:Vision Co-op. The CI staff decided to join the finely tuned operation that is Westwood’s No Cost Grocery Program this past Wednesday. The program has been operating to distribute rescued food boxes to Westwood residents every Wednesday from 3 – 5pm and will be doing so through August 19th. The 4 of us are a microcosm of about 15 volunteers and Re:Vision Community Promotoras stacking and breaking down empty boxes, unboxing food items, directing traffic, and getting water for everyone. It’s a hot day but we have juices, produce, snacks, packaged foods, milk, and thermometers to box and send down the assembly line. When 5 o’clock rolls around we’ve run out of food items to package on my end of the line and thankfully everyone (including volunteer residents) are going home with a box of food. I remember overhearing that nearly 300 boxes were distributed in that 2 hour span.
Re:Vision’s No Cost Grocery Program has been collectively organized by our newest CI partner Lifespan Local, Roots Family Center and BuCu West/The Kitchen Network, Kaizen Food Rescue, and Denver Food Rescue to collect rescued food and distribute it back out to the Westwood community. Residents line up in their cars along Morrison Rd. or walk up to one of the pop-up tents at Re:Vision to check in with a Lifespan Local coordinator and pick up their box of food for the week. People are happy to see one another and shout thank yous out of their car windows as they roll through.
After the bulk of the work is finished, I practically run over to a Paletero to buy a $2 mango con chile paleta and wave over my coworkers Andrew and Vicki to join in on this deliciousness. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a paleta at the end of a volunteer shift at Re:Vision. Antonio Soto, Operations Director at Re:Vision, catches us as we’re walking back to the tents and thanks us repeatedly for our help. He says that a few weeks ago they only had three volunteers to do the same amount of work we did today. Our jaws drop. There have also been volunteers who have shown up consecutive Wednesdays who are very much in need of relief. Antonio says that community need for food has increased by 20% each of the last few weeks and more community members are depending on these food boxes. I have so much respect for the community groups and volunteers who have come together to directly meet community needs for food security during the pandemic by building a mutual aid network.
As I’m walking through the Re:Vision garden, I can’t help but feel grateful to be part of a team that values community and is ready to lend a helping hand. We’re already talking about volunteering as a team again in a few weeks. Re: Vision is absolutely looking for volunteers to help this coming Wednesday and every Wednesday through August 19th. If you’re able, please sign up here and bring your mask! The folks at Re:Vision will be so happy to see you.
Written by CI Program Director Katie Vega