NewsCovering Colorado


Rent hike forced pantry to find new home

Westside CARES new Stratmoor Hills location is bigger and better than before
Kristy Milligan Westside Cares Medium.jpeg
Posted at 6:35 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 12:52:52-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — When one door closed for Westside CARES earlier this summer, a bigger and better one soon opened. The charity announced a new partnership this week with Harrison School District 2 to use the cafeteria of Stratmoor Hills Elementary School to house their weekly food pantry.

It'll be open from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, at 200 Loomis Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80906.

Westside CARES CEO Kristy Milligan explained that their landlord notified them of a sizable rent increase for their pantry on B Street earlier this summer.

“We received notification from the landlord that the rent would be going up beginning October 1 from $795 to over $2000,” she said.

Within days, leaders from Stratmoor Hills United Methodist Church, Broadmoor Community Church – UCC, and Westside CARES met to discuss future options to serve this neighborhood.

“We couldn’t have dreamed a more ideal location for this pantry.”

Christine O’Brien, Director of Communication for Harrison School District 2 explained a news release that the new partnership made sense for their families as well as for the community.

“Within our district, as many as 68% of families qualify for free and reduced lunch, and we saw an opportunity to expand our support to families by partnering with this pantry,” said O’Brien. “D2 believes in partnerships like these to meet the needs of our community.”

The district closed the elementary school last year and was in the process of repurposing the building. It still houses a Head Start preschool program and now supports the teachers and students at the Aspire Online Academy.

Teachers at Aspire use the school for face-to-face meetings with students, and the facility also serves as a space for student enrichment activities.

Pantry activity will be limited to just the cafeteria.

"What we're really excited about is a lot of people are very familiar with the Stratmoor Hills Elementary School space," Milligan said. "We know in that community that hunger and food deserts are a real challenge."

The group held a volunteer kick-off event and celebration at the cafeteria on Wednesday.

"Oh, I think it's fantastic, this is a really a much much bigger pantry. There's a lot to offer families, a lot more. So, we're just really excited to be here," said Rose Grasselli, who began volunteering at the B Street pantry last year.

The staff at Aspire and Head Start will continue to follow the D-2 calendar. So, the pantry will not be open on Wednesdays that fall during school holidays.

Westside CARES employees moved out of the B Street location earlier this week and will open at Starmoor Hills Elementary for the first time on October 5.

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