If you’re driving near the intersection of Jetwing Drive and Hancock Expressway on the second Friday of the month, you may notice some traffic congestion in the area due to the Solid Rock Community Development Corporation’s (SRCDC) Community Pantry event, which provides free food to Colorado Springs residents in need. Sept. 11 was its second community pantry, and traffic was backed up on Jetwing Drive from the Mission Trace shopping center to the north side of Hancock Expressway.

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Cars line up at the Mission Trace shopping center for the SRCDC food pantry.

“Last month was our first time,” said Gina Peterson, the SRCDC project manager overseeing the Community Pantry. “We served 587 individuals in the drive-thru, and that following Monday we served another 120 individuals. Just in being open five days we served over 700 people. We know the need is going to continue to grow, because unfortunately COVID has hit Southeast [Colorado Springs] the hardest of the rest of the community. That’s why we decided to open a food pantry to try to see what we could do. A lot of the pantries in the area have closed because they were run by churches where the volunteers were mainly seniors, and with the risk of COVID they’ve had to shut down.”

SRCDC will hold its food pantry from 4-6 p.m. the second Friday of every month to complement the food Pantry event at the nearby Deerfield Hills Community Center on the fourth Friday of every month. “Outside of this distribution we also have an appointment system and they [residents] would just have to go to our Facebook page and join the community pantry group. There’s a calendar where they select the time and day to come over and we load them up with some food.”

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Volunteers help provide food to community members.

SRCDC partners with a number of community organizations and volunteers to provide its services to the public. “We partner with Care and Share Food Bank, so we’re one of their partner organizations,” said Peterson. “We also have been getting some additional produce support from the Colorado Springs Food Rescue. We have a lot of partners helping with volunteering. We’re new, so we’re still trying to get the word out. We have folks from Harrison District 2, we’ve got Jake from the Sand Creek Public Library, we have people from Solid Rock Christian Center, the church, we also are trying to do voter registration and we are also giving out kits from Colorado Springs Utilities to change light bulbs and become more efficient.”

Danielle Oller, a public affairs specialist with Colorado Springs Utilities, said, “Colorado Springs Utilities has developed an Energy and Water Savings Kit specifically to help families with the cost of their utilities. If a family installs all of these free products, they can save about $144 each year on their utilities. Each kit includes four LED light bulbs, two high efficiency shower heads, and two faucet aerators. The kit also includes information about a free energy and water retrofit program through the Energy Resource Center and who should/how to apply.”

In addition to the energy and water savings kits, Colorado Springs Utilities has a number of additional programs to help residents in need. “Project COPE provides utilities payment assistance to families and individuals struggling financially due to a personal crisis or emergency,” said Oller. “It is the only local organization that dedicates its entire funding to utilities payment assistance year-round. Customers who receive a past due notice or are struggling to pay their bill should call us at 448-4800 to discuss how we can help.” 

According to the El Paso County “Community Needs Assessment,” published by the county in July 2020, “the top three categories of need identified by residents of southeast Colorado Springs were: infrastructure (transportation, affordable housing, and access to community gathering spaces and quality parks); quality jobs and food.”

For more on the El Paso county assessment, read the October issue of Southeast Express.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.