Lakewood resident Barb Moore recently received a phone call from McLain Community High School about a student whose family was being evicted, and father was losing his job. The student was worried …
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Lakewood resident Barb Moore recently received a phone call from McLain Community High School about a student whose family was being evicted, and father was losing his job. The student was worried his family wouldn’t have anything to eat, and the school was asking if Moore could help. She runs Jeffco Eats, a nonprofit that helps feed children in Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater and Arvada.
“I told them of course. This young man had the courage, because he knew he had a teacher to ask,” said Moore. “One of the things people have to realize is some of the kids ask, but a lot of them don’t. The reason we want to be proactive initiators of bringing more food is because we are trying to fill in the gap for those that are silent.”
Moore launched Jeffco Eats three years ago and watched her organization deliver 182,000 pounds of food last year, according to Jeffco Eats. Now, Jeffco Eats is helping feed Jeffco students through school pantries.
The nonprofit partners with Rose Stein Elementary, Westgate Elementary, Molholm Elementary, Brady High School, McLain Community High School, Everitt Middle School, Deane Elementary, Jeffco Head Start and Wheat Ridge Head Start to donate food to each school’s pantry.
“School teachers are in the best position to see hunger and how it impacts the learning of students. If a student is hungry, they’re going to focus on being hungry, and they’re going to act out a little more,” said Heather Jurgaitis, the director of Westgate Elementary’s food and clothing pantry. “If we can help them not have to focus on being hungry, they can focus on their learning instead.”
The district-wide impact of hunger is significant. Data from the Colorado Department of Education shows that one in three Jeffco students, grades K-12, are eligible for free and reduced lunch.
“Children are special. They can’t fend for themselves, and they need people to help them out,” said Peter Freitag, operations volunteer leader for Jeffco Eats.
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