Wed August 22, 2012

Tuna Fish & Peanut Butter: Food for the Hungry, Blues for the Soul

Colorado’s unemployment rate ticked up in July to match the national average of 8.3 percent. It’s another sign the economy still isn’t bouncing back as fast as people are hoping.

For Colorado food banks it means demand for services is up, while donations are down. Bob O’Connor, Executive Director of the Weld Food Bank, says the economy and a busy wildfire season have impacted giving in northern Colorado.

“Even a year before it became official that we were in a recession, we saw it. We saw a number of people working one to two part-time jobs so they can keep their income alive,” says O’Connor. He says even those who are working find their monthly income doesn’t stretch far enough to cover bills and the cost of food – which is where food banks can help.

"If you can come out to Tuna Fish & Peanut Butter and donate either cash or food, it will be put to great use -- and you'll be helping your fellow neighbors, that's for sure." -Bob O'Connor

Events over the summer, including the Aurora theater shooting, and two of the most destructive wildfires in Colorado history, have stretched charitable giving this year. O’Connor says the Weld Food Bank is fortunate to have a stable base of supporters, so donations haven’t dropped much. But with the need so much higher this year, it’s not enough to sustain their operations.

And the drought gripping Colorado and much of the southwest will have a big impact on what the food bank is able to provide this fall.

“Last year 31 percent of our distribution was fresh produce,” O’Connor says. “That’s 2.2 million pounds of fresh produce that went out to people who are struggling financially. We already know this year from speaking to our farmers that they have had to plant less.”

O’Connor says while food banks are grateful for donations of cash or food, cash gives them greater flexibility. With every donated dollar, Colorado food banks can provide six meals.

Shot of the crowd at last year's concert
Credit Jim Hill / KUNC

KUNC’s Tuna Fish & Peanut Butter benefit concert, now in its 26th year, has become a late-summer tradition for many who want to help. Food and monetary donations at the concert support the Weld Food Bank and the Food Bank for Larimer County.

Big Bill Morganfield – son of legendary blues musician Muddy Waters – headlines this year’s event, along with Colorado band The Delta Sonics. The concert is Sunday Aug. 26 from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Hammond Amphitheater in Loveland.

An interview with Bob O'Connor, Executive Director of the Weld Food Bank.

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