Etgar 36

Day 10 – Denver

by Jordan Rubinfeld

Today, we began our Journey at 8:45 in Denver. We first spoke to Hannah Jones who works with the Food Bank of The Rockies. When we entered the building, I saw several racks of food all categorized in different sections. Hannah spoke to us about how in a country of so much there is still staggering rates of hunger. We learned about food insecurity, which is the lack of access to enough food for healthy life in all household members. Hannah explained to us that children are more likely to be more food insecure than adults because if the providers (such as parents or guardians) are not getting enough food, the children are not either. Through the conversation, I discovered the difference between a food pantry and food bank. I never really knew the difference, but now I understand that a Food Bank is like a hub and they don’t serve clients directly, they just store the food, whereas a food pantry distributes the food to the people. Something that surprised me was that when a food bank gets a dollar, 96 cents of that dollar goes to a food program and that 1 dollar is equal to 4 meals.
After the discussion, Hannah gave us a tour of the Food Bank. We first went to the Reclamation Area which is the main volunteer center. This is where all of the food comes in and volunteers take what there is and sorts which food goes where. After, we made our way to the warehouse where most of the food is stored. It was a big room that had 16 aisles filled with sorted food products. We then visited the fridge which was gigantic, as well as freezing. Afterwards, we made our way to the kitchen. There, we learned that most of the meals that are made go to schools. The food bank created totes which supply kids with enough food for the weekend and for in school, therefore not to make the child feel left out. The last part of our tour was the dock areas. This quarter of the bank is where agencies are receiving the food to distribute. We also visited the receiving dock where donations from farmers, people, and grocery stores are unloaded and are sent to the fridge. Having this experience inspired me to help out at my local food bank more and donate as much as I can. It reminded me of how lucky I am to be able to eat at every meal, and never go away hungry. After the conversation, I am determined to do more.

After learning about the food bank, we went back on the bus and continued our adventure by making our way to Boulder. On the way to Boulder we observed the majestic Rocky Mountains firsthand and it really made me appreciate the natural beauty of earth. Once we arrived in Boulder, we had a discussion about how the past few days have been so incredibly emotional and how it impacted us. We have covered a lot of heavy topics and it was so nice to reflect on and share our thoughts and feelings. After our reflection, we were able to explore Pearl Street. It was so much fun to just hang out and laugh with friends, do some shopping, eat some pizza, and of course have some Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream! After our Pearl Street excursion, we went to the Boulder JCC and had a Yoga lesson with Lara! It was really hard, but it was also relaxing and so nice to clear my mind. Lara taught us how to connect with our bodies on a spiritual level. Yoga is a great way to distract us from all of the stress and pressures of life. After Yoga, we celebrated Anna’s birthday! We ate chocolate cake and then made our way to the bus to go on a 2 hour ride to Laramie, Wyoming where we ate dinner!

In Laramie Wyoming we learned about Matthew Shepard who was murdered and tortured in Laramie in 1998 because of his sexual orientation. It was very captivating and informative to hear about his story which is known as the most notorious anti-gay hate crime in America. Matthew was not buried until 2018 because his parents thought his grave would be vandalized, due to the anti-gay protest at the time. Something interesting that I learned was that in 2009, an act called the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crime Prevention Act was passed by President Obama. This act expanded the definition of hate crimes, to include crimes based on sexual orientation. It was first denied by President Bush. Although things have progressed since 1998, the battle to achieve equality is still not over and it is up to everyone to fight for it.

Dinner was delicious and some friends and I walked up a Wyoming Bridge. This journey  has been a life-changing experience and I feel so lucky to be able to have this privilege. Each day is arming me with strategies and resources to address important issues such as gender equality, reproductive issues, and racial issues. Today was a great day and I cannot wait to see what comes next!