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A $10,000 grant from the El Pomar Foundation received this past December by the Chaffee Department of Human Services (DHS) has made a critical difference to a swath of families not previously able to get food assistance.

“The exclusive purpose is to target food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DHS Director Dave Henson during his 2020 year-end report to the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) last week. “We hadn’t asked for it, so it took us a while to figure out what it was for.”

Now he’s very glad that this aid arrived. Henson explained that the grant made a big difference in the county almost immediately. ”This broadens our approach to serve families without children. We don’t have a lot of options to serve people who come in needing help for food who don’t have kids.”

He explained the impact of being able to offer direct assistance to those individuals and couples who have been financially impacted by the economic impacts of COVID. The distribution rules have meant that they don’t qualify for designated family aid.

The grant allows DHS to join with community partners to place this aid where it will be needed most. Henson pointed out that DHS is working with the county’s food coalition group to identify those who could qualify to receive aid from this new grant source. “It can help individuals and programs most in need of help. Using the grant, we’re going to purchase food cards to give to people needing assistance.”

“We’re excited it is going to go a long way toward working with our partners to offset Chaffee’s food insecurity needs,” added Henson. “It’s nice to give you good news for a change.”