Food bank welcomes new director

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For Sandy Martin, becoming the Arvada Community Food Bank’s new executive director is like coming home.

“My career has gone full-circle,” Martin said.

Martin began her career as the city of Arvada’s first human services director in 1978 and sat on the planning committee for the Arvada Community Food Bank when it was first founded by Interchurch Arms and the city in 1981.

“I thought it would be open for a couple years during the recession in the ’80s until the need was taken care of,” Martin said. “We’re here 31 years later and I don’t see the need for food going down.”

Martin served as the director of human services 1978 to 1994; she has also served as the executive director for the Jefferson County Head Start program and for Colorado Bright Beginnings. Martin also served as the chief development officer at Warren Village through 2011.

In 2011, Martin semi-retired, but was still looking for something she was passionate that would let her help others.

“For me to go back, it had to be something that captures my whole heart and something I could live and breathe as an organization,” she said. “I saw the listing for executive director and I said, `This is it.’ I have always loved the food bank. I love Arvada”

Martin said she loves that the food bank is supported so greatly by the Arvada community, how wonderful the clients the food bank serves are, and how great the food bank’s 270 volunteers are.

“Last year volunteers provided nearly $700,000 worth of services to the food bank,” she said. “Without them, the food bank wouldn’t be possible. They’re the heart of the organization.”

Martin said she also looks forward to working with the food bank’s board of directors.

“We have a fabulous board of directors,” she said. “They are actively involved and very committed.”

Martin said her focus for the food bank is to fundraise and grow its savings, which are already health for the organization, she said, to allow the programs to expand and serve more people in the area.

The food bank’s programs include the Client Choice Program, where qualified clients can choose their items based on the size of their household, the once-a-month food for seniors and 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten, and the Feeding the Future Backpack Program, where children who qualify for free and reduced lunches receive a sack full of food items, including entrees and healthy snacks to take home over the weekend.

The Arvada Community Food Bank’s coverage area in northern Jefferson County reaches from 38th Avenue to 120th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard to Highway 93.

Martin said her goal is to fundraise and find sponsors so that allow all elementary schools in the coverage area have the opportunity to participate in the Backpack program.

“Our goal is to serve all schools in the Jeffco area that we serve,” she said. “It really is a large project.”

Martin said she is also looking into a grant that would allow food bank case managers to help clients sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the former food stamp program, using six computer stations at the food bank. The computer stations could also be used by clients to search for jobs, take computer and English as a second language classes, GED classes and more.

With the expansion of the food bank’s storage area last year and a steady flow of donations from both individuals and businesses in the community, Martin said she is taking over the food bank in great condition, and she looks forward to making it even better.

“With the relationships between the customers, churches, businesses and individual community members, the food bank is exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “I’m home.”

For more information on the Arvada Community Food Bank, call 303-424-6685 or visit www.ArvadaCommunityFoodBank.org.