A Meal’s Journey

Twenty percent of the clients Project Angel Heart serves—about 250 people each week—live in the Colorado Springs area. But all the meals are made in the kitchen in Denver… so how do they get where they need to go?

With the help of a freezer truck and its rain-or-shine driver, a generous community partner (with big freezers!), two Colorado Springs staff members, and a whole bunch of eager volunteers.

Wednesday

Volunteers pack oranges into plastic bags

Meal enhancement bags—which contain milk and fruit for each client—and breakfast bags are packed by volunteer groups and stored in the cooler until delivery.

Volunteer groups—usually from local companies, organizations, or service clubs—visit Project Angel Heart, take a tour to learn more about the organization, then get to work packing the supplemental nutrition bags that Project Angel Heart provides in addition to meals. These include breakfast bags, which go to clients who are severely underweight or malnourished (about 20 percent of meal recipients), and meal enhancement bags, which go to every client and contain fruit and milk/almond milk that match their dietary needs. The bags for Colorado Springs clients are sorted onto special racks.

Thursday

Several volunteers pack meal trays into paper bags

Volunteers pack meal bags in the Denver kitchen.

Dozens of distribution volunteers descend on Project Angel Heart’s Denver kitchen to pack all the meal bags for the week. They pull each meal that was cooked since the previous Thursday out of the freezer, pack one of each into a paper meal bag (making sure that the meals match each clients’ dietary restrictions), then sort the meal bags by location. All of the Colorado Springs meal bags go on special racks that get wrapped in plastic covers for transport. They’re also verified to make sure each Colorado Springs client and their diet is accounted for.

Friday, Early

A man pushes a cart full of meal bags into the back of a freezer truck

Mike Yost loads all 250+ meal bags for Colorado Springs clients into the freezer truck and makes the trip.

Mike Yost and Matt Nigro, Project Angel Heart’s distribution assistant and coordinator, move all those meals into the organization’s freezer truck. Mike straps the racks down and ensures the plastic covers are in place so that no meal bags fall during delivery.

He sends a text to the Colorado Springs office- “Leaving Denver.” Then he buckles his seatbelt and makes the one-and-a-half-hour (in good weather!) trip from Globeville to Colorado Springs.

Friday, Mid-Morning

Project Angel Heart's freezer truck parked at Care & Share food bank

Mike delivers the meals to Care & Share, a food bank that donates freezer and cooler space to Project Angel Heart for meal storage.

Mike and the freezer truck arrive at Care & Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, a long-time partner in our Colorado Springs delivery operation. The massive food bank, which distributes 24.7 million pounds of food to hunger relief organizations and neighbors in Southern Colorado each year, donates a sizeable chunk of freezer and cooler space to Project Angel Heart for meal storage each week. Mike unloads the meals from the freezer truck, re-loads 20 empty racks from last week’s meal delivery back into the truck, and drives back to Denver.

Saturday, Early

Volunteers take over the floor at Care & Share to sort meal bags and get them ready for delivery.

Sally Rothstein and Amy Siebert, Project Angel Heart’s Colorado Springs regional manager and distribution and volunteer assistant, arrive at Care & Share, along with a team of distribution volunteers. Together, they take the meal bags from the freezer and cooler and organize them into the 25 delivery routes that will go out in Colorado Springs that day. They also check and double-check to make sure each bag is in the right place and includes the correct combination of medically tailored fruit and milk (and take a few moments to “ooh” and “aah” at all the great art on the bags). The operation takes a fair amount of floor space—which Care & Share generously provides.

Saturday, Mid-Morning

Two volunteers smile as they put a meal bag into the back of their car

Elizabeth & Teresa, pictured above, shuttle meals to a second satellite location in Colorado Springs. Then, volunteers pick up meal bags and deliver them to clients’ homes.

Volunteers start transporting and delivering meals. The first to arrive are Elizabeth & Teresa Easton, a mother-daughter shuttle team who take approximately one-third of the meal bags to First United Methodist Church (and have been volunteering to do so for ten years!). Once they get there, volunteers meet them in the parking lot to pick up their delivery routes. The other volunteers come to Care & Share to pick up their meal bags for delivery.

And then? All that work allows the real magic to happen… 250 Colorado Springs neighbors receive a bag full of tasty, nourishing meals!

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