By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4)– Making sure families have access to healthy food is a priority for KIPP Northeast Denver Middle School. Every school year, for the last five years, the school has been making sure anyone who needs it can get no cost groceries.

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“I think there’s a lot of challenges that families face in providing a good education for their students that might not necessarily be related to academics or quality schools,” said Gabriella Rodriguez, the school’s Community Outreach Coordinator.

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Thanks to Denver Food Rescue, every Thursday during the school year, KIPP allows anyone from the community to swing by and load up.

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Gutierrez says it ensures parents can take care of themselves and their children can show up to school with a full belly.

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“It’s about food with dignity you know so this isn’t like a handout. Families are willing to work for the food and willing to do whatever they can to contribute to the community,” she said.

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Some community members volunteer to help set up the food. They get first dibs on what to take home but there is plenty to go around. On Thursday, the Denver Food Rescue delivered just under 3,000 pounds of food. Organizers say they sometimes find themselves with leftover food.

Half of the food goes to KIPP’s sister program, Academy 360 in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.

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“The balance and nutrition is totally off I think for this neighborhood, Montbello, parts of Green Valley, we could use a lot more input,” said Audrey Senhor, a volunteer.

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CBS4’s Jamie Leary met Senhor Thursday night as she was filling a truck with food to take to Academy 360 in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood, the second location for KIPP’s no cost grocery program.

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Senhor has two grandchildren at Academy 360 and says the Montbello neighborhood wasn’t only a food desert, it has surplus of fast food restaurants. She encourages more people to take advantage of the program.

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“Bring a box or a bag and we’d be happy to service you!” Senhor said enthusiastically.

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The organizers with KIPP are passionate about making sure the community it educates has every opportunity to succeed no matter what their background.

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“We work hard to make sure this is here every Thursday, rain or shine, holiday or not,” Gutierrez continued, “and it’s about food with dignity you know so this isn’t like a handout. Families are willing to work for the food and willing to do whatever they can to contribute to the community.”

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But there are no requirements. If you need healthy food, KIPP is there with no cost groceries. The program runs every Thursday. Food is delivered around 3 p.m.

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LINK: Denver Food Rescue

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.


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