This December, The Dime is taking on the theme of giving back. We have dedicated a portion of our posts, including our weekly Dime Roll, to introducing volunteering opportunities all over the state and other ways for everyone to lend a hand or give back to the community
I’ll admit it: I get hangry when I haven’t adequately sustained myself with nutrition. I’m not as productive at work, I get testy with friends and family, and am definitely not firing on all cylinders. Now think about being an elementary school student trying to learn on an empty stomach. Trying to stay focused, keeping a positive attitude, and playing well with others…all the more challenging when you are wondering where your next meal will be coming from.
Enter an amazing local non-profit organization: Food for Thought – Denver. Their mission is the elimination of weekend hunger in Denver’s Title I schools. I was introduced to Food for Thought through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Denver Mile High. The Club “adopted” Harrington Elementary School, a DPS school with 96% of the students qualifying for Free/Reduced lunch. Districtwide on a daily basis during the week, Denver Public Schools Food Services provides:
- Breakfasts: 29,844 per day
- Lunches: 47,703 per day
- Snacks: 6,733 per day
During the week, children in low-income families rely on federally-funded school breakfast and lunch programs as their main nutritional meals (72% of all DPS students, or 60,874 students, qualify for Free/Reduced lunch). On the weekends, substantive meals set the stage to help them learn; however, these children do not get enough to eat. So every Friday during the school year, Food for Thought volunteers fill PowerSacks of food for children to take home – enough nutritional food to feed a family of four. By providing a PowerSack to each child in the school each week, we hope to ensure no child goes hungry over the weekend, and is ready to learn Monday morning.
At Harrington, we purchase enough food from the food bank each week to fill 375 PowerSacks. We are assisted in assembling and delivering the food bags to each classroom by a select group of 4th graders who are learning the value of service to others from role models by participating in packing food bags for their classmates. Ali Marsh, Volunteer Coordinator for Food for Thought at Harrington Elementary School, has seen the direct impact of the weekly program. “I know the little guys are truly thankful for the PowerSacks and the volunteer work has been so impactful: they’re learning to be healthy, thankful, hard-working, and to pay it forward.”
As a completely volunteer-driven organization, Food For Thought has no overhead expenses. That means every penny donated goes directly to purchasing meals for children – and every $4 provides a PowerSack with 8 meals. Yep, now that I’m thinking clearly after my lunch and am no longer hangry, I’m going to sponsor a student’s PowerSacks from Thanksgiving through the end of the year so he or she can focus on learning and growing, and not on whether or not they will be hungry over the weekend.
This post was written by Jeff Sprole, an Ambassador Field Manager with Colorado PERA. If you’d like to submit a guest post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.