Hillside Hub, Colorado Springs’ First ‘Neighborhood Food Hub’, to Host Grand Opening Saturday | New
Food to Power employees are as happy and hopeful as ants invited to a picnic.
They are rushing to prepare for the official opening Saturday of Colorado Springs’ first “neighborhood food hub,” named the Hillside Hub.
“It’s impressive to see this manifesto,” said Patience Kabwasa, executive director of Food to Power.
Two Colorado College students started the organization in 2013 as Colorado Springs Food Rescue, in which they collected reusable food from the school cafeteria and cycled it to a soup kitchen.
The organization is still “collecting” leftover food, now from stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and redistributing it, but operations have increased dramatically.
Last year, leaders changed the organization’s name to Food to Power to better reflect its current work: building a nearly $3 million campus in southeast Colorado Springs with an urban farm. educational and airy, functional building for food giveaways, food culture and cooking workshops, youth leadership development, a composting initiative, accepting donations of farmyard produce, and a system product processing.
The goal is to “use food as a vehicle” for families to “embrace health equity through access to food” for all, Kabwasa said.
“The goal is to cultivate a community-run space where neighbors grow, cook, learn, access, advocate and gain employment through fresh food,” she said.
The public grand opening of Hillside Hub will take place from 3-7 p.m. Saturday at 1090 S. Institute St. It will feature food trucks, free groceries, seedlings for vegetable gardens, music, chalk art, tours and videos produced with Colorado. Students.
The local Lane Foundation donated the 3.5-acre site, which sits on a bluff where South Institute Street ends in the Hillside neighborhood. The land gives a breathtaking view of the city.
Kabwasa remembers standing in the arid field on the property’s ridge thinking about the vision when she took on the leadership position in the fall of 2020, after volunteering with the organization as she moved his office at the Helen Hunt Campus in 2016, a few blocks from his new location.
“People are drawn to this space; Every day there are different projects going on,” she said. “Last weekend, a child who had never planted anything but had seen it on TV, now has a space to learn how to plant a tomato. It’s very rewarding.
The Hillside Hub building began in June 2021 and was completed in April, Kabwasa said.
Construction costs rose by nearly half a million dollars during that time, she said, which meant restarting a fundraising campaign that had already been pulled for additional funding.
Volunteers helped plant a large outdoor garden with vegetables favored by the majority in a neighborhood survey, such as squash, peppers and kale.
A four-season greenhouse, a fruit and berry orchard, a free community market and more additions are yet to come.
Through 13 food distribution sites, the organization served 46,000 residents in 2021, Kabwasa said.
Research the organization conducted in 2018 with El Paso County Public Health identified four major neighborhoods in Colorado Springs that lack nearby grocery stores and access to healthy, fresh foods. These are Hillside, Pikes Peak Park, Meadows Park and Knob Hill. The first three are in southeast Colorado Springs, which has the highest concentration of low-income households in the city, according to Census Bureau data. Knob Hill is northeast of the city center.
In the long term, Food to Power wants to create community food hubs in every neighborhood, or at least bring elements of the Hillside Hub to the other areas, said Slade Custer, director of development.
Transportation to grocery stores or other food outlets is a major barrier and leads people to buy less healthy foods from convenience stores or fast food restaurants, he said.
“These things take time to take root deeply,” he said. “But the community will be cultured.”
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