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Food for thought

On-campus food bank program expands its reach, continues to address hunger in Denver.

February 29, 2016

MSU Denver students assemble "Power Sacks” at the Hospitality Learning Center. 
MSU Denver students assemble "Power Sacks” at the Hospitality Learning Center. 

It’s easy to take food for granted. But for many low-income households in the Denver community, having food on the table isn’t an expectation.

Four years ago, MSU Denver, led by the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, joined forces with Arvada Sunrise Rotary to help fight hunger in Denver. To do so, they established Food for Thought, a nonprofit food bank, based on campus, that provides food to low-income, elementary-aged children in Denver Public Schools.

Every Friday morning during the school year, MSU Denver and community volunteers meet at the Hospitality Learning Center to pack “Power Sacks” of groceries that are intended as supplementary food to get families through the weekend. Those packages are then delivered to participating schools.

“The wonderful support we have received at MSU Denver from everyone – students, faculty, staff and administrators – has enabled us to build and grow a rock solid program serving new schools,” said Jeane Larkins, Food for Thought volunteer coordinator.

The program began by adopting two elementary schools and now serves more than seven, touching the lives of 1,600 DPS students. It welcomed its newest school into the fold this month – Ellis Elementary.

The food for that location will be packed at Denver South High School, which will essentially be replicating the MSU Denver model on its own campus. The high school students will prepare the food as part of a service-learning opportunity that will benefit the elementary school.

Research shows that when children are hungry they are unable to focus and learn and can be disruptive in the classroom. At more than 50 DPS schools, 90 percent of students are Title I eligible, meaning that they live at or near poverty level.

And that’s exactly why MSU Denver, led by the efforts of Professor Michael Wray, who is also an executive board member at Food for Thought, continues to support the program’s essential work.

If you’d like to get involved, visit the Food for Thought website.