Teenagers pack more than a ton of food to fight food insecurity
Article and photos by Celeste McNeil
Twenty-nine high school students gathered for a service project on a Saturday afternoon, just days before school began. The youth and a handful of adults, all from the Castle Pines ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spent a few hours in a Denver warehouse with Rebecca Thomas from Denver Cherry Creek Rotary packaging food staples into pantry-size portions.
Volunteers scooped dried food, such as rice, beans, oats and flour from 50-pound bulk bags into 1 ½ or 2-pound bags to be distributed at Metro Caring’s downtown food bank. Working three or four at a table, the teenagers quickly got into a rhythm of labeling, dating, scooping, weighing, securing, and boxing up the smaller-portioned food.
In two hours, the teens processed 900 pounds of rice, 850 pounds of pinto beans, 300 pounds of oats, and 750 pounds of flour.
“This is the largest group of volunteers we’ve had,” said Thomas. With no idea of how much the teens would accomplish, Thomas was delighted when she added up the totals and realized more than a ton of food was prepared – 2,800 pounds, or nearly a ton and a half.
The youth worked hard and had fun too. Some rotated stations and worked with different people than they began with. There were a few friendly competitions between which station was the least messy and which table scooped and packaged the most food. The teens simply enjoyed being together and helping make other’s lives better.
Denver Cherry Creek Rotary partners with Metro Caring, a downtown food bank, with the goal of ending food insecurity. Denver Cherry Creek Rotary provides the warehouse space for the food provisioning project the high schoolers participated in.
Metro Caring is more than a food bank; it offers “innovative programming in Healthy Foods Access, Nutrition Education and Cooking Classes, ID Procurement, Urban Gardening and Agriculture, and Community Organizing and Activation.”