The day after she was named the next leader of the organization she once turned to for help, Christine Alford was collecting a donation to deliver to a Denver Food Rescue pantry.
“I have a whole truck full,” she said in an interview Tuesday after a stop at Denver’s Fresh Guys Produce. “This is something I want to continue. We can never forget what the groundwork is.”
Alford first came to Denver Food Rescue for help feeding her family in 2015 when she visited one of the nonprofit’s no-cost grocery stores, which connect people in low-income food deserts to healthy food.
She later started her own pantry in her Five Points neighborhood and joined Denver Food Rescue’s board of directors. Last September she was hired as program director.
“The board of directors selected Christine because of her depth of knowledge about Denver Food Rescue and her dedication to serving the community,” Eric Swan, the board’s president, said in a statement about Alford’s appointment as executive director.
“Her personal life experiences will provide her with insight into the lives of those we serve that simply could not be taught or replicated in some other manner.”
After a month transition period, Alford will take over from Turner Wyatt, a co-founder of Denver Food Rescue who is moving to Crested Butte and planning to continue fighting food waste.
Denver Food Rescue’s volunteers and staff in trucks and on bicycles collect produce that is edible – but perhaps imperfect or nearing its sell-by date – that stores, farmers markets, restaurants and wholesalers might otherwise throw away.
The organization also collects from large pantries like Metro Caring. Every year the nonprofit provides more than $2 million in healthy food to more than 50,000 people. Its pantries are set up at such places as schools, recreation and community centers, Boys & Girls Clubs and senior housing complexes.
Alford said Denver Food Rescue also is committed to nurturing community leaders, as her story demonstrates.
“I’m just one person that comes from the community,” she said. “As we know in any organization and any work that you do, it can’t be done alone.”
“We are resident-driven, community-driven,” she said.
She said she also would continue to seek partnerships with health-focused organizations. As program director, she helped start a pantry at a westside Denver Health clinic as part of a program to improve health among children.
The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, or FVRx, supports participants in the Sam Sandosclinic’s MEND program. MEND — Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It! — was developed in the United Kingdom based on extensive research and has spread around the world.
Children between the ages of 7 and 13 are, along with their families, encouraged to change how they think about food and exercise, to keep active and to eat healthy, tasty and nutritious food.
Alford was taking her truckload of food to Denver Health on Tuesday.