By Amanda Schwengel
SECOR (South East Community Outreach) was founded in the early 1990s to address poverty and hunger in an unexpected location: suburban Denver. Today the Parker-based nonprofit has grown into SECORCares, expanding its reach to clients experiencing basic needs insecurity in 42 Denver-area zip codes.
Now, the nonprofit is extending its reach into central Denver to combat food insecurity in another unexpected place: the Auraria Campus. SECORCares partnered with Metropolitan State University of Denver and Ent Credit Union to bring its Mobile Market, a truck outfitted to serve as a full grocery store on wheels, to campus for the first time Feb. 5. The nonprofit is working with the University to bring it to campus monthly while classes are in session.
An MSU Denver-specific survey, conducted in conjunction with The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice found that 70% of respondents experienced some form of basic-needs insecurity in the past year, 62% encountered housing insecurity, 44% reported food insecurity and 17% reported experiencing homelessness.
One of the most important challenges in addressing basic-needs insecurity in higher education is awareness, said Randi Smith, Ph.D., professor of psychology at MSU Denver whose scholarship involves extensive work with homelessness in college populations.
SECORCares approached MSU Denver about bringing their Mobile Market to campus after its leadership saw a news report about the University's Roadrunner Food Pantry, said Mark Heistand, director of operations for SECORCares.
"We put (the Mobile Market) together so that we could go out and find areas of the city that need it," he said. "We want to go out and help whoever needs it, no matter where it is."
Editor's Note: RED's "Community Impact" is a monthly feature highlighting the work of an outstanding Colorado nonprofit. There are more than 25,000 nonprofit organizations in Colorado, and MSU Denver's Department of Human Services & Counseling is providing students with the skills and fieldwork required to lead them through its Nonprofit Studies concentration.
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