Aug 23, 2019
Together with Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Executive Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs announced a pilot program today where select Denver Police officers will carry non-perishable food items supplied by We Don’t Waste to give to Denver residents who appear to be in immediate need.
“Our mission as a city has been and will continue to be ensuring that everyone in Denver has access to equity and opportunity, and that we never forget those who feel left behind – especially when our city is so successful,” Mayor Hancock said. “That’s why I have challenged all of Denver’s city departments and agencies to work towards creating more equity across every community and for all residents, and that’s what this pilot program is all about.”
The food pilot program is a part of Public Safety’s Denver Opportunity Index (DOI), a philosophical shift in public safety service delivery that attempts to address social issues facing Denver residents.
“Food insecurity in our city is somewhere between 11 and 12 percent,” said Riggs. “And, we know that impacts quality of life. It impacts behavior, it impacts thoughts and actions and can manifest itself in crime if people become desperate to feed themselves or their families.”
First responders, including DPD officers, see firsthand the struggles facing some residents.
“Our officers are a part of the Denver community and interact with residents on a daily basis who may be experiencing the worst day of their lives,” said Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen. “If we can do something to address an immediate need in the moment, it may help.”
The pilot will begin with DPD’s homeless outreach team and the citywide impact team. The goal of the program is not to turn officers into a meal delivery service, but to offer them an additional tool to help meet residents where they are.
As this is a new approach for Public Safety and DPD, Director Riggs and his team are partnering with the experts - We Don’t Waste, a nonprofit food recovery organization and Denver Human Services (DHS), whose mission is to connect residents with vital services like housing, healthy food, child care and medical assistance.
“Every day, we see the joy and relief that people feel when they receive enough food to feed themselves and their families,” said We Don’t Waste Executive Director Arlan Preblud. “That’s why we do what we do, providing food that would otherwise go to waste to people who truly need it. And this project is a wonderful and innovative example of how we can work together to support our community.”
Serving roughly one in three Denver residents, DHS reaches for a vision of a healthy community where each person is connected, supported, safe and well.
“No one in our community should go hungry, especially when resources are available to feed them,” said DHS Executive Director Don Mares. “All people need access to healthy food to do their best at school and work, and to live longer, healthier lives. We are committed to working alongside our city and nonprofit partners to fight hunger and ensure healthy outcomes for Denver residents of all ages.”