Food Recovery Journal

Partner Feature: Giving Grocery

April 25, 2022

For one of our recipient agencies, Giving Grocery (formerly known as South High School Food Pantry), food distribution is about more than feeding students; it’s about taking care of the students’ communities as well. We Don’t Waste has been distributing food to the organization since 2018, and is proud to have been a part of their growing impact over the years.

The pantry started in 2014 when Greg Thielen and Jaclyn Yelich’s daughter was enrolled in Denver South High School. Their daughter has since graduated college, but the pantry is still going strong with the duo at the lead. 

Students enrolled in the school have the opportunity to shop every Thursday, and the pantry typically serves around 100 families each week. The offerings include fresh produce, proteins, milk, eggs, snacks, culturally relevant items, and even personal care items requested by the students.

For the Giving Grocery, the demand for culturally relevant food offerings is more important than for most, as Denver South High School is home to an extremely diverse community of students. The school has historically been welcoming to immigrants and has had students enrolled from Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Venezuela, Honduras, and more. Over 50 countries are represented in enrollment every year!

Part of We Don’t Waste’s commitment to serving the Giving Grocery is through the variety of food we deliver to them to meet their community’s needs. Food itself is essential for survival, but food that tastes like home is an even greater comfort. 

Notes from the Denver South High School Students thanking We Don’t Waste for the food donations.

When the pandemic hit, Giving Grocery was forced to adapt to changing circumstances and even greater needs. 

“For many of our families, the first several months of the pandemic were incredibly difficult,”  Greg says. “Some family members became seriously ill, some lost jobs, some had their work hours reduced dramatically, and children were at home instead of school. We worked hard to support our families during the first year of the pandemic by delivering food directly to their homes.” 

With the help of dedicated volunteers, the pantry was delivering food to over 30 Denver South High School families every week! They remained open during the summer months as well, knowing that summer, in particular, can be a difficult time for food-insecure families who depend on free or reduced school meals. 

Despite the country opening back up and parents and children headed back to their respective offices and schools, food insecurity continues to trouble many families. “The cost of housing, gasoline, electricity, heat, and food force many families to make difficult choices. Do they buy gas to get to work or do they buy food for their family?” Greg says.

A volunteer helps distribute foods during the weekly pantry.

Denver South High School is fortunate to have the Giving Grocery serving South’s students and their families’ needs, and We Don’t Waste is proud to have them as stewards of our recovered food. We know that each week, nothing is going to waste, and the people who need it the most are receiving the food and the support they need to thrive. 

“Working together, we have made a difference for our kids and their families,” Greg says. 

If you would like to support Giving Grocery, check out their website to make a donation and find volunteer opportunities!