AURORA, Colo. — A free food market that was a lifeline to Aurora residents during the COVID-19 pandemic is temporarily closing its doors.
Due in part to rising rents, Food Connect Colorado — a nonprofit associated with Food Bank of the Rockies that runs a free grocery store — will cease operations while the nonprofit searches for a new location.
“Our rent has gone up quite a bit. It's gone up $500 in the year that we've been here,” explained Liz Watts, the founder of Food Connect Colorado.
“Also, our main source of funding, which is a grant … changed the rules about how you can use the grant money that they give you,” she continued. “It used to be, you could use it for just about anything. And then they changed the rules so that you had to spend 80% of this grant money on food.”
Watts explained for Food Connect Colorado, that funding structure “just doesn't work” because all of the food on the nonprofit’s shelves is donated or reclaimed, not purchased.
“We don't need money for food,” Watts said. “We need money for a place, and we need money for the utilities, you know, to refrigerate the food … now that that grant has changed the rules, we just don’t have any grant money coming that way. ”