October 15, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Lorea Zabaleta | Photo by Aida Hasson
Sufficient subsistence is vital for human existence. Even if it’s disputed as to whether or not human needs actually exist within a hierarchy as Maslow suggested, it’s indisputable that we need to eat, and eat enough to survive and thrive.
Yet, up to one in six residents of the Pikes Peak Region suffer from food insecurity, meaning they lack consistent access to a healthy quantity and quality of food.
Food to Power — formally known as Colorado Springs Food Rescue — is a locally-based nonprofit organization, started by two Colorado College graduates in 2013 to help address the issue. It began with two primary goals: increasing food access and decreasing food waste within the city.
However, it quickly grew beyond those initial aims into a more complex entity dedicated to cultivating what the organization calls “a healthy equitable food system.”
Slade Custer, the communications and development manager for the organization, said that “we provide integrated programming that addresses the entire food cycle.” The food cycle is everything from growing the food to getting it onto plates to composting the scraps, Custer said.
What started as direct distribution of food to community members turned into a more complex entity with “three integrated pillars of programing,” Custer said. Of these pillars: food access, food education, and food production. Only the first was represented by the original name.
“We just found that Colorado Springs Food Rescue wasn’t really [an adequate name] so we did a big rebranding process,” he said. “Everything we’re doing is based off of the food system here locally and the food inequities and the food injustice that affects so many of our local community members.”
Thus, Food to Power was born — a name more encompassing of the scope of the organization’s work that also refers to its goal of empowering the local community. This wholistic approach of helping community members reach their full potential is part of why Custer began working for Food to Power. Custer wanted to help members of the community achieve their full potential, by working through and with food.
“If you’re starving everyday, you can’t even begin to focus on things like applying for jobs or performing well [at] your job, you can’t look at things like enhancing your relationships with your friends and family if you’re just in a state where you’re operating at decreased efficiency just due to hunger,” he said.
Something “really exciting” Food to Power has in the works, Custer said is the new hillside hub. The hub will be Colorado Springs’ first neighborhood food center.
“It’s just going to provide a much larger venue for us to grow,” he said.
The hub will have a full-scale farm growing tons of fresh produce that can be given back to the community at “no cost” or sold through strategized markets at low cost; a massive composting park; and kitchens and classrooms to teach people how to cook the food given to them, Custer said.
The hub will be finished this January after breaking ground over the summer.
But if that’s too late for you and you want to get involved in helping create a more equitable food system in Colorado Springs, Custer said that money and time are two important things a CC student could give.
“Just being able to volunteer with the organization, potentially going to food distributions, help pack through boxes, going out and [getting involved] in the programs, you can kind of see firsthand,” Custer said. “You can truly see and truly open your heart and begin to empathize with some of the people who are coming from a less privileged background and are facing so much challenge in their daily lives.”