LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Every Friday, fourth-grader Marley Whyte welcomes customers who enter The Hub at Foothills Foodies, a student-run food bank at Foothills Elementary School.
“We help customers with getting their food…we’ll grab clipboards and we’ll walk around with them and we’ll tell them what items they can get,” said Whyte.
Alongside dozens of her classmates, Whyte works at "The Hub" to try to make sure families have food for the weekend, including her own.
“We don’t have as much money as we should and it helps my family because we get lots of food here,” said Whyte.
More than 75% of Foothills Elementary School students receive free or reduced lunch.
Diana Baumgarten, a social worker at Foothills Elementary School, told Denver 7 she realized a few years ago that some students needed more than what was offered during school hours.
“It was initially going to just be weekend backpack food. But it ended up morphing into more,” said Baumgarten.
“Families can come and shop for food on a weekly basis and then this school year, we were lucky enough to be able to add a clothing bank also.” said Baumgarten, who helped open The Hub.
This year "The Hub" began partnering with A Precious Child, a nonprofit that helps provide clothing and hygiene products for families in need.
“Whether it's food or hygiene products or clothes, they’re able to come to one place and get all the services at once and not have to go to a bunch of different places and have transportation be their barrier,” said Vice President of Programs for A Precious Child, Brittany Polinksi.
The Hub also partners with Safeway, local churches, and individual donors for food items.
“We are 100% self-sufficient and everything that we do get is through donation or through the PTA,” said Bernadette Marquez, Title I Family Engagement/Diversity Liaison at Foothills Elementary School.
“It’s not so much them having to be given a box full of food with some of the items they may not even like; they have the integrity, the ability, and the opportunity to come on in and pick everything that they want," Marquez said.
Students who work at ‘The Hub" do so as a part of the school’s innovation block, a class and program that allows students to have hands-on experience with subjects they’re interested in.
The Hub is open every Friday at Foothills Elementary School from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and at other times by appointment only.