Care & Share - CSPM

Care & Share

A fair question to ask: how does a community care for its most vulnerable residents? In the Pikes Peak region, Care and Share has been a part of the solution for five decades. Founded by Sister Dominique Pisciotta in 1972, Care and Share now operates in 31 counties across Southern Colorado, helping countless families combat food insecurity through a network of food pantries distributing millions of pounds of food. The dedicated staff and generous volunteers of Care and Share improve lives every single day.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

Did you know that one in eight adults and one in six children in Southern Colorado are at risk for hunger? The mission of Care and Share Food Bank is to not only help the community survive but thrive. In 2019, Care and Share offered 153,401 Southern Coloradans short term emergency assistance through a network of 276 partner food pantries and meal programs across 31 counties. Operating with an efficiently low 4% overhead, the organization can make every penny count for acquiring and distributing food and supplies to those in need.

Sister Dominique Pisciotta saw the consequences of hunger in the Colorado Springs community. In 1972 she started the food bank that became Care and Share. Partnered with the Pikes Peak Food Bank and several local churches, she organized food acquisition and distribution with volunteers to the needy. At first, the food bank operated in the basements and garages of volunteers and churches before it grew into its first warehouse. Between May 1974 and November 1975, 6500 individuals in crisis received enough supplies for three days. This model of a three-day supply is still in use by Care and Share today.

Care and Share partnered with the Pikes Peak Food Bank for several years before the two organizations merged into one. Care and Share started the Emergency Services Network in 1983 to provide better assistance to those in need. The organization found that people seeking food assistance also struggled with utility bills, healthcare, and other financial burdens. The ESN provides resources for subsidies, temporary need solutions, and programing such as Project COPE to help Southern Coloradans get back on their feet.

The economic conditions of the late 1980s and early 1990s changed the type of people seeking need from the agency. The typical individual seeking assistance was either homeless or unemployed. After the economic slump, Care and Share saw a dramatic increase in single moms, elderly, and middle-class community members who struggled nearly as much as the destitute. Once the economy began to stabilize the need in these categories remained unchanged.

Since its beginning in the 1970s, Care and Share has relied on the generosity of the Colorado Springs community. The agency sponsors two major food drives during July and the Holiday season. Nearly every major public event in the city has a food drop off location. Local businesses including real estate agencies, the postal service, churches, and schools have held their own annual food drives in support of Care and Share. Each year the agency expands its outreach and capability to serve the continuously growing need for services. Care and Share outgrew its warehouse and in 2009 moved to its present distribution center which cost less to operate and has more space for food storage including a refrigerated section for dairy and produce.

The agency has always been ready to serve the community in times of large-scale crisis. The Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires devasted the local community, but Care and Share organized relief efforts to serve all in need. The agency also aids in disaster relief throughout its 31 counties in Southern Colorado as well as nationally. Care and Share aided communities after Hurricane Katrina and distributed water during the Flint Water Crisis to name a few.

Even though at times the shelves seemed to be almost bare, Care and Share has always initiated emergency food drives and received grants and funds from local and national organizations. What might be most impressive about Care and Share is that they have never closed their doors and have never stopped helping Southern Coloradans thrive.

In 1974, Sister Dominique Pisciotta recognized that many residents struggled with hunger and started Care and Share Food Bank. Operating in 31 counties across Southern Colorado, the organization offers short-term emergency assistance to hundreds of thousands of those in need through its 276 food pantries and Emergency Services Network.

Generously Submitted by Heather Poll, M.A.

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