Lorena Santa Cruz was busy on a recent day, filling boxes with peanut butter, bread, cereal, canned goods and other nonperishable items at Denver Inner City Parish.
Taking a break only to wipe the sweat from her brow and fan her face, Santa Cruz made sure everyone who came to the parish's food bank in central Denver went away with what they needed.
"I like to help people when they need it the most," said Santa Cruz, who also uses the food bank to help feed her family.
In addition to the food bank, Denver Inner City Parish, approaching its 50th year of service, operates a private school, summer and after-school programs, and several other programs that serve low-income families. It is seeking funding through The Denver Post Season to Share program.
Chandrika Prem, development director for the parish, said the number of people seeking food has tripled in the past year and a half — to about 1,110 different families a year and about 350 families monthly. It gets its food from the Food Bank of the Rockies and local churches.
More and more, its clientele is changing.
"We don't serve just the homeless or people who aren't working," Prem said. "We're also serving the working poor, people who have a choice between paying rent and eating, and they pay their rent so we give them food."
Those who come to the food bank can receive three days' worth of food for their family once every three weeks, she said. The food bank has a walk-in cooler where it stores pineapples, meats and, for the holidays, turkeys.
Lalo Delatorre lost his job as a marble and granite installer about three months ago, and on this day he made his first trip to the food bank, even though he didn't want to.
"The situation is now there is no work and no money for food," he said.
Maria Flores said the food bank is a blessing.