Student Standouts: Donovan Denham
donovan denham | parkway west high school
Many of us take for granted the fact that we know where our next meal is coming from. Food insecurity is a huge issue, and it’s one the current pandemic is only exacerbating. It’s a problem that Donovan Denham is working hard to fix.
The Parkway West sophomore is the student director of St. Louis Food Rescue, a nonprofit that collects unsold, fresh food and produce from local retailers to deliver to food banks, homeless shelters and other organizations.
How did you get involved with St. Louis Food Rescue?
My dad signed me up to volunteer. I grew attached to the people we helped. I’m lucky that I’ve never missed a meal and can count on food being on the table. Working with the organization, I saw that there are people who don’t have reliable access to food, and that motivated me to keep going. The original director eventually got a job in Florida, and I was the most consistent volunteer, so I became student director.
What do you do in your role?
St. Louis Food Rescue picks up food from companies like Einstein Bagels and Costco, so I communicate with managers to set things up. Then I organize drop-offs with homeless shelters, food pantries and organizations that need food donations. I also run the social media accounts and work to expand our services so we can get more volunteers and feed more people.
What is your favorite aspect?
It’s definitely interacting with and meeting people. I like seeing the positive impact of what we are doing.
How has COVID-19 affected St. Louis Food Rescue?
We have to be very careful and take extra precautions when delivering and picking up food. Right now, there are certain items we just can’t use, but we’re also delivering foods we haven’t before. It’s been interesting.
What about the impact on school?
Online learning is definitely new, and I personally have enjoyed it. I miss my teachers and classmates, but it’s helping me build skills like time management. I have to be more responsible since no one is telling me to get my work done. I get up each day and know I have to finish it or my grades will drop.
Have you thought about what career you’d like to pursue?
I want to get into business. Last summer, I went to a business camp at Mizzou, and it really inspired me. I think St. Louis Food Rescue has really helped me learn to take responsibility and manage a bunch of different aspects of an operation. But I still don’t know for certain; there are a few years left to decide.
As part of its sponsorship, Sport Court has made a donation to Gateway 180 Homeless Services on behalf of Donovan.