About Food Connect Colorado

Food Connect Colorado started in 2020. Founder Liz Watts had worked at a domestic violence shelter in Arvada and a food pantry in Parker and saw the need for food assistance in her home city of Aurora. The northeast quadrant of the Denver metro area is the only one that does not have a client-choice food pantry/market open more than a few hours a week. We were granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS on June 16, 2020.

The original plan was to open a client-choice food market, where shoppers choose the foods they want in a market setting. Then COVID happened. Everyone went to the drive-up model and that is how we started. We became a partner agency with Food Bank of the Rockies, and most of our food was sourced from there. From November 2020 to May 2021, we operated a drive-up food giveaway at Del Mar Park in Aurora every Thursday afternoon, serving 144 households a day.

We opened our free food market in July 2021 on Airport Blvd. There are no income requirements, but shoppers must be residents of Aurora. Every week, with the help of our valued volunteers, we stock our market with fresh produce, dairy, dry groceries, and bread and distribute it to people in our community. A rent increase made it impossible to stay at the Airport Blvd location, and we had to close in April 2022. After a search of almost a year, we found a new location with CrossWind Hope and Restoration Center, a nondenominational church in Aurora. We reopened April 2023.

Unlike other food pantries, whose main mission is feeding the food-insecure, Food Connect Colorado has a dual mission. We not only seek to feed the food-insecure, we want to do it with food that would otherwise be wasted. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 30% of food in American grocery stores is thrown away, as much as 20 pounds per person per month. Organic waste–mostly food–is the second biggest component of landfills, and landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

In her 450+ hours of volunteering at the Food Bank of the Rockies, Liz has seen gallons of milk and boxes of bread go into dumpsters. There is plenty of free food available; it just needs to be picked up and transported to the people who need it. We have expanded our food sources and also pick up food from Volunteers of America’s City Harvest, Target, King Soopers, and the Denver Rescue Mission. Our biggest expense is not food, but rent and utilities. Any monetary contributions go directly to that.

Food Connect Colorado located in Aurora CO
Food Connect Colorado located in Aurora CO