Dining discounts in Fort Collins to benefit Larimer County Food Bank

Jenn Yingling

A series of dinner specials are coming to Fort Collins from March 1 to March 14 to provide donations for the Food Bank of Larimer County.

Great Plates is a program that provides a series of dining discounts in downtown Fort Collins.

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According to the Food Bank the event includes $25 dinner specials at 28 different restaurants in downtown as well as a chance to donate. Every $1 donated provides $5 of food to those in need.

Participating restaurants include Beau Jo’s, Austin’s, Bisetti’s and The Melting Pot. The event starts at 5 p.m. and ends at each restaurant’s closing time.

According to Lauren Mingus, the communications director of the Food Bank for Larimer County, the program is in its 11th year. Last year Great Plates raised over $88,000 for hunger-relief programs, providing over $440,000 worth of food.

“Great Plates was started by the Downtown Business Association to promote dining at downtown restaurants,” Mingus wrote in an email to the Collegian. “After a few years, the DBA invited the Food Bank to partner with the event.”

After participating in the dinner specials diners can donate to the Food Bank by asking their server for details. The slogan for the event is “Dine, Discover, Donate.”

“All of the money raised is donated by restaurant diners,” Mingus wrote. “I think diners enjoy the specials, but they are definitely supportive of the Food Bank.”

According to the Food Bank hunger or food insecurity is a lack of access to an adequate amount of nutritious food; 32 percent of those hungry in the United States are children, 11 percent are seniors and 49 percent are working families.

Outside of the Great Plates event there are a variety of other initiatives to help fight food insecurity and support the Food Bank. Mingus wrote that people can donate, advocate or volunteer.

Donations are accepted by mail, online or in person. Members of the community can also attend one of the Food Bank’s fundraising events such as Empty Bowls, Front Range Rally or THE TASTE.

Food donations are accepted throughout the year, according to Mingus. Canned goods as well as produce donations are accepted. The Food Bank’s Plant It Forward partnership with Gardens on Spring Creek encourages community gardeners to grow extra rows of produce for donation.

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“Volunteers are the hands and hearts of our organization,” Mingus wrote. “We offer a variety of volunteer positions and encourage individuals to visit our website to learn more.”

According to Mingus over 2,600 volunteers contributed 37,900 hours last year, which is the equivalent of 19 full-time staff members.

The Food Bank’s hunger-relief advocates help to educate the community on the importance of hunger-relief programming. They also reach out to legislators, voicing their support of local, state and national legislation promoting hunger-relief.

For the full list of restaurants participating in the Great Plates event visit downtownfortcollins.com.

To donate or volunteer with the Food Bank for Larimer County visit their website at foodbanklarimer.org.

Collegian reporter Jenn Yingling can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @jenn_yingling.