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'We will never miss a Friday': Food for Thought feeds students' families

Every week, volunteers pack food from Food Bank of the Rockies for kids to take home for the weekend.

DENVER — Every Friday during the school year, Bob Bell gets up before the sun comes up -- to keep a promise.

"We haven't missed a Friday whether it's the pandemic or beyond," Bell said. "We just haven't missed a single Friday because that's what we owe to those kids."

Bell is the founder of Food for Thought Denver. Every Friday, he brings more than 100 volunteers together to pack food for hungry kids. He said the idea was hatched nine years ago in a bar.

"Sitting on a barstool and running into a teacher who, I'm a native from north Denver, and she's telling me about these kids at her school at 40th and Federal whose last meal they count on is hot lunch on Friday," Bell said.

It's the last meal, Bell said, before those kids go hungry over the weekend because their families can't afford enough to eat. So, every Friday before the sun comes up, he and the volunteers work to change that.

"We buy all our food at the Food Bank of the Rockies on Thursday," he said. "We load it down here under the Colfax viaduct. Friday morning at 4:30, people just matriculate."

Bell said the volunteers fill 20,000 bags of food a month for 72 schools from Denver to Aurora to Adams County. The students take these bags home to their families so they can eat over the weekend. He believes kids think better when they're not hungry, hence the name Food for Thought.

"The fact that they don't get to eat like they should be able to eat is not their doing. So, they're all of our kids. All of these people have embraced those as their kids," Bell said. "By and large, 90 percent of those kids in that school go home to no food."

That's why Bell and the volunteers have showed up every week for nine years and counting.

"We've never missed a Friday," he said. "We will never miss a Friday."

Ricardo Ruiz has kids at Munroe Elementary School in Denver. 

"A lot of people like myself thank you for what you do," Ruiz said.

Ruiz said his family has benefitted from the bags of food from Food for Thought Denver.

"I think the kids feel good bringing back these bags of food cause they definitely feel like they're providing food in some ways helping the house by bringing a little bit of food," Ruiz said.

That's why Bob Bell swears he will be there every week during the school year.

"I've seen the difference and through the pandemic that bag never failed them," Bell said. "It's full of food for sure. It's full of love more importantly."

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