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Food Boxes & Gift Cards Helping Struggling Coloradans, Restaurants

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) - There has been a large need for basic necessities since the coronavirus hit Colorado. While there are pop-up food drives to help, one organization is thinking long term.

The Westminster Market Night is part of a new program that will support up to 600 families a week by providing food boxes and gift cards to local restaurants.

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It's part of WestyRISE Restaurant and Food Security program. Participants can pick up a food box with fresh fruits, veggies, dairy products, and a $35 gift card to a Westminster restaurant.

Daily, restaurant-prepared meals will also be available for residents over the age of 60 who are struggling to put food on the table.

Carmen Flores lost her job due to COVID-19. She's struggling with food insecurity.

"I've never been in this position before to have to ask for help, but I just can't make it," Flores said. "There's absolutely nothing in my cupboard. I only have three cans of tuna and that's it. It's ridiculous to live in a country that we do and not have food. It's terrible."

She's not alone. More than 350 families drove up to the Market Night at City Park Rec Center in Westminster.

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"What we've done in the city of Westminster is provide an opportunity to provide people food boxes once a week, and also a restaurant gift card," said Gregg Moss, a spokesman for City of Westminster. "Not only are families benefiting with a free box of food, but we have purchased the gift card from the restaurants, give it to the families, and the restaurant benefits as well. It's a win-win for everybody."

Assistance is needed now more than ever. The city says it's had a 35% increase in families who need help putting food on the table over the last few months.

"It's such a blessing just to come and pick up something because I know that everybody needs it," Flores said.

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Meals for seniors will be delivered the week of Oct. 19. The meals are prepared by a local restaurant under the supervision of a dietitian and delivered once a day, five days a week. The Senior Hub, a nonprofit agency that assists aging adults and families in need in Arapahoe and Adams counties, is coordinating this part of the program. People interested in registering for meals can call 303-426-4408.

Market Night runs every Wednesday now through mid-December. Food box pickup will take place at City Park Recreation Center from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Weekly Market Night updates and detailed information is available at 303-706-FOOD (3663).

This program has been approved and supported by City Council and the city's Economic Development Department. The program is funded by the federal CARES Act.

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