By Marissa Armas

DENVER (CBS4) — Two years into the pandemic, food insecurity continues to be a huge issue in the Colorado community. This need prompted a group of North High School students to take action to help their classmates.

“I’m a member of MECHA and I wanted to show you guys the community fridge,” said Nayeli Lopez, a freshman at North. “We have Gatorades, water, Lunchables. There’s always kids saying I’m hungry.”

(credit: CBS)

A week ago, SOMOS MECHA students at the school opened a free community fridge for anyone looking to fill their stomachs. Lopez, who’s a part of MECHA, which stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana de Aztlán, said that at North, more than 60% of students are on free or reduced lunch.

“I hope they walk away with a sense of gratitude, and be like ‘hey, this is a place where I feel safe and I can come get something to eat, without having to be judged, or ask a second time or having to pay,’” said Carlos Rosas, a senior.

The need at the school was so big, the fridge was empty in just a couple of days.

“So we had to go shopping again, but now it’s a little slower, but kids are definitely eating the snacks,” Lopez said.

But food insecurity at North is indicative of a much larger issue facing the community.

“What we’ve seen is a continued and sustained need for food assistance,” said Erin Pulling, the CEO of the Food Bank of the Rockies.

(credit: CBS)

The Food Bank of the Rockies is serving more families now than it was before the pandemic started. In 2021, the nonprofit distributed over 93 million pounds of food.

Pulling said that currently they’re spending almost a million dollars on food every month, in large part due to inflation.

“Some of the staples that we’re purchasing so much of like ground beef is up 27% from over a year ago, canned fruit is up 30%, vegetable oil 54%,” said Pulling. “And then freight costs and that impacts both food that we’re bringing in or purchasing and that’s getting donated.”

As food insecurity worsens in our state, these students hope the fridge continues to make a difference for those who need it most.

“You never realize how much of an impact something has on the community until you actually take action,” Rosas said.

Marissa Armas