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South Salt Lake Journal

Souper Bowl of Caring provides food for in-school pantries

Mar 16, 2020 02:45PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Gregory and Nicholas Bennett collect and sort donations for Souper Bowl of Caring for in-school pantries in the Granite School District. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

The Granite Education Foundation (GEF) is teaming up with the Souper Bowl of Caring initiative to raise funds and food for their 20 in-school food pantries and 31 mobile food stops.

“The goal is to have a food pantry in every school,” said Kimberly Oborn, GEF’s program director over food services. “We opened two last November and plan to open an additional three this year.”

The need is significant in the Granite School District with over 50% of the 68,000 students receiving free or reduced lunches. Having food pantries in school improves the overall well-being of the family and the students.

In flow

The GEF’s efforts started in November with the students at four grocery stores across the valley. In December, another food drive was held at five store locations. The Saturday before the Super Bowl, GEF held a third food drive at six grocery stores. There were also school food drives.

The Bennett family of West Jordan handled the collection table at Ream’s (2783 State St.) for most of the day on Feb. 1. They found the opportunity on JustServe.org.

They would give flyers to people as they entered the store and collect and sort contributions as they came out.

Nicholas Bennett, a senior at Copper Hills High School, is working on completing at least 100 hours of service. If he is successful, he will graduate with the Copper Service Honor Cord.

“It is like graduating with honors in service,” Nicholas explained.

Their efforts brought in 752 cans of food items and $111 in donations. This was part of the 6,677 cans collected and $1,486 donations made on that Saturday. GEF is still gathering numbers for in-school drives.

Outflow

The food pantry at Granite Park Junior High School is one of the premier food pantries in the system.

For the past school year, nearly 90% of Granite Park students utilized the pantry at some point.

“Overall, we can conservatively say that 10,459 individuals received food directly from the pantry over the 2018-2019 school year. This does not count food provided for cooking classes, special family orders or deliveries/drop-offs,” Aaron Wilson, principal of GPJHS, said.

In this school year, the pantry has served 500 to 900 individuals per month.

Not only is the pantry used for food distribution, but it also provides supplies for cooking classes at GPJHS.

“This helps the students learn how to cook meals based on food from the pantry,” Brody Mangum, outreach coordinator for GPJHS, said.

The pantry is viewed by the students as another school service such as counseling and transportation or lunch.

“The pantry has become a significant part of the school, providing a vital resource to students in a variety of indirect ways (supporting clubs, activities and more) without being a stigmatized entity due to how ingrained it is in the school's culture,” Wilson said.

Besides direct donations, corporate sponsors also provide items like fresh bread.

Another benefit of the food pantry is opportunities to serve.

“Families benefiting from the pantry regularly return to the school with a desire to help, mostly wanting to give directly back to the pantry. Due to parents and families, we've received dozens of hours of service. Students have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time. Many have used this as an opportunity to build resumes for summer jobs, collect hours to put on college applications, and to provide support to their friends in need,” Wilson said.

The pantry is designed like a shopping experience with teachers and other volunteers helping recipients gather items based on shared recipes.

“The community has better communicated amongst themselves, or at least in ways that reflect what we're doing at the school. As an example, the community knows the exact day I get a shipment since, if one parent comes in and sees, will tell other families significantly faster than I could ever,” Wilson said.


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