Intern Coordinator Kat Booth Gives Thumbs UpAs the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to disrupt all aspects of everyday life in Summit County and around the world, many individuals, businesses and organizations are taking the opportunity to give back to their communities in a variety of ways. In our neck of the woods, the Summit County Community and Senior Center (SCCSC) has tackled the challenge head-on by adjusting its “Meals on Wheels” food assistance program to fit these uncertain times. And the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) is happy to be a part of it.

Summit County Senior Center Food BankThe SCCSC has been providing Meals on Wheels to homebound individuals (predominately seniors, but not exclusively) in the County for many years, but since the Coronavirus arrived in Summit County in mid-March the initiative has morphed into providing meals for anyone in need, including anyone that may be isolated as a result of COVID-19. With the loss of tourism dollars, and therefore many jobs and wages, over the last few months, the number of individuals looking for meals is currently up over 400 percent. And because of this, Summit County Chef Sara Hopkins is currently making approximately 375 fresh meals a week in addition to providing non-perishable food boxes.

BOEC unloads Food Bank of the Rockies truck“This is unprecedented, we have never done anything like this before,” said Hopkins. “We are proud to be able to offer this essential service and will continue to do so as long as there is a need or our building reopens for public use. Knowing that we are helping feed hundreds of families every week really makes you feel like you are contributing to the needs of such a special community.”

And part of this unprecedented service is the aforementioned non-perishable box distribution program which the BOEC has been an instrumental part of. The Food Bank of the Rockies, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help families thrive by procuring and distributing food to the hungry, is now delivering roughly 10,000 pounds of non-perishable items to Summit County once a week. But there’s a lot that happens before the truckloads arrive. The Family Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) places the weekly order, BOEC staff/volunteers pick up the food in their company trucks, and then transport the crates of food to the Senior Center for box/bag building and distribution. Then once the food packages have been put together by SCCSC staff and volunteers, they are distributed every weekend to all of the towns to feed their citizens in need.

BOEC unloads its truck“The team from the BOEC has been an integral part of our non-perishable food distribution operation,” said Hopkins. “The many hands and vehicles that have been available at (practically) a moment’s notice have been immensely helpful in the transportation of food into our facility so we can get our operation running as efficiently and effectively as possible. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done and continue to do in this time of need! It warms my heart and just goes to show what a special organization the BOEC is and the quality of individuals it attracts.”

BOEC and Senior Center Employees PoseBOEC’s involvement in this program is just one way that the 44-year old nonprofit has shifted its community focus over the last few months and will continue to do so every Wednesday until the need is abated.

“BOEC has been the beneficiary of so much generosity over the years and we felt strongly that as a member of this community, we needed and wanted to give back however we could,” said BOEC Executive Director Sonya Norris. “With the difficult decision made to cancel much of our summer programming due to COVID-19, the team at the BOEC has committed to focusing on community needs. Supporting the efforts of the Summit County Seniors Center is just one small thing we and our amazing team of volunteers can do to help those who need it most during this difficult time.”