AURORA | The long lines of cars queuing up outside Aurora’s new In-N-Out made headlines nationwide, but the hundreds of cars that showed up outside Hinkley High School Wednesday morning to receive a Thanksgiving meal show that the people of Aurora are in need of a lot more than just double-doubles.
That’s no surprise, considering the economic devastation the coronavirus pandemic has caused statewide. According to a survey conducted by nonprofit Hunger Free Colorado this September, more than 29% of Coloradans are struggling with food insecurity, a rate that tripled since the beginning of the pandemic. Of households with children, 45% struggle with not having enough food, the survey reported. Rates are also higher for communities of color, with 38% of Coloradans of color surveyed saying they didn’t have enough food compared to 25% of whites.
Aurora Public Schools has been distributing meals to students on free lunch plans throughout the period of remote learning, distributing 3.4 million free meals in total so far since the beginning of the pandemic in March. On Wednesday morning, APS’ nutrition services team distributed free Thanksgiving meal kits at 16 locations across the district.
At Hinkley High School cars stretched down Chambers Road, and there were so many people that meal distribution began half an hour early and ended 40 minutes late. At one point the district had to transfer meals from another location because there were so many people, but every car in line was served, district spokesperson Corey Christiansen said.
Each family received a Thanksgiving meal kit with a turkey roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and pumpkin pie. They were also given five days of breakfast and lunch meals and three days of dinner meals. About 500 cars and 15,000 meals were served in total, Christiansen said.
At Hinkley meals were served from a newly renovated bus with heated and refrigerated draws. The district plans to renovate its two other meal distribution buses in the next couple months.
The district will also be distributing meals Wednesday evening between 4:15 and 5:00 p.m. at Hinkley High School, Aurora Central High School, Gateway High School, Rangeview High School and Vista PEAK Preparatory.