DENVER (CBS4) – Tens of thousands of Denver children live below the poverty line, and when the school day is over there is often no food on the table. So a group of local business leaders asked how they could feed the children and their families on the weekend.
Any student at Columbian Elementary School in Denver will say Fridays are the best day of the week, but not for the reason most might think. Fridays mean fuller backpacks than usual and fuller tummies at home.
“My mom likes the soup and my sister likes the drinks,” third-grader Abby Davalos said.
Every student gets a “Powersack,” a tool to help them learn by way of their stomachs. In a school where many children have no homes, the teachers took notice of hunger.
“A lot of the teachers were noticing that students coming to school on Mondays were lethargic, acting up, and it turns out that it was because they were very, very hungry,” Laurence Rua with the nonprofit group “Food For Thought” said.
Food For Thought gathers every Friday at Metropolitan State University. It’s the same routine with different volunteers from different businesses each week.
“It’s a shame that not all kids in America can have a decent meal every day,” Volunteer Dylan D’souza said.
They pack 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food in less than two hours and send 700 “Powersacks” straight to several of the schools where poverty is pervasive.
“My family loves it a lot and I like it because it comes as healthy and great snacks and stuff,” fifth-grader Jadden Rosas said.
There is no overhead, just the cost of food from Food Bank of the Rockies. Food For Thought cofounder Bob Bell says there are 20,000 hungry stomachs to feed in Denver Public Schools alone, and he plans to get to every one of them.
“When we started, 20,000 looked insurmountable. Now we’re servicing about 1,000 kids a week, so the problem doesn’t look that big now,” Bell said. “It looks like we can fix it.”
Food For Thought’s long-term goal is to create a system that can be replicated by other organizations so all the children in Denver can be fed.