To keep IFCS running takes an incredible amount of volunteers and donors. If you read my previous two blog entries, you know that IFCS is a bustling market providing food assistance, and that support from the community keeps IFCS moving forward. Every collaborator plays an important role in alleviating hunger. In this entry, we’ll take a close look at one of IFCS’ many corporate donors: Tico’s Foods of Denver.
Food donors are essential for keeping any food pantry stocked; this is a given. Having fresh food that is nutritious and tastes great is a priceless gift when the goal is to build a healthy, strong community. Stories of families receiving expired, moldy, or rotten groceries from food pantries across the country are all too common, unfortunately. IFCS has worked hard to “freshen things up” and create a more positive experience for participants who visit for food support. Fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, whole grains and rich sources of protein – from chicken to beef to walnuts – line the aisles of the Market @ IFCS, where shoppers can make their selections. Among the protein options is often a popular item manufactured by Tico’s Foods: Tico’s Green Chili with Pork.
Tico’s Green Chili is a much-coveted food throughout the Denver Metro Area and beyond, and you may be wondering how it’s possible that IFCS has Tico’s on its shelves. The Canino Family has been making Tico’s green chili for over 50 years and have incorporated charitable donating into their business since they opened. More than 20 years ago, the Canino Family and Tico’s Foods established a partnership with IFCS: from providing donations of food for open houses and special events, to attending all the Nibbles & Sips fundraising galas (since the event’s inception), Marty Canino and his family have supported IFCS. The Canino family members and their businesses have also supported IFCS with in-kind and financial donations.
When the COVID pandemic hit in spring of 2020, doors shuttered across the community and Tico’s production orders went unfulfilled. Their prepared foods had expiration dates and, like many other businesses at the time, they had to take a loss. IFCS was fortunate to receive the large quantities of food that were earmarked for – but could no longer be delivered to – county school cafeterias, local restaurants, and government entities. IFCS was awarded funding through special grants for Colorado Proud manufactured foods, and this allowed them to purchase Tico’s food products for the Market. Thanks to the generosity of the Canino Family, a relationship that formed decades prior opened the way for IFCS to begin a commercial buying relationship with Tico’s Foods. This relationship offered three-fold sustenance during challenging pandemic circumstances: it helped sustain the Market @ IFCS, the participants needing food assistance, and the Tico’s Foods business.
In 2023, Marty Canino agreed to help IFCS document the value that corporate partners bring to the table. Enjoy this 77 second video clip here:
When I watched this video, Marty Canino’s story about how his family has always cared about their community is reminiscent of my childhood and family too. It reminds me of how my grandfather, who was Italian and part of the Son’s of Italy community, would get together with other foundation members to feed large groups of people in central California. He had reasons why he would spend days cooking (on his own) huge vats of Marinara for huge pasta feeds. I know that is fairly different from what the Canino family is doing with IFCS, but it’s the same community feeling and family values. Both families give time, energy, and food generously – and are happy to do so – because they care about others!
Does the Canino family story conure up memories of your own family’s generosity? I think it’s wonderful to have leaders in our community who inspire us. Speaking of families, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and many gatherings of relatives and/or friends are being planned for the holidays. The Team at IFCS is planning for their annual FreshThanks holiday meal food distribution, an event that brings families, friends, and teams of employees together to give and to receive support. I look forward to sharing more about it in the next blog entry!
Kathryn Adams is a Nurse Freelance Writer who started out her career as a Firefighter EMT-B then RN and has transitioned to professional writing. She started volunteering with IFCS in 2018 because she has a passion to help others. When she isn’t writing she enjoys hiking, yoga, skiing, and traveling. She lives with her husband, dog and kitty in the Colorado Mountains.