Local churches pair together to bring Granite School District families food and clothingMay 30, 2022 04:27PM ● By Lizzie Walie
By Lizzie Walje | [email protected]
As school ends, students anxiously anticipate summer festivities such as travel, camp and a much-earned break from academics. For the majority of students, it’s a period of major excitement. However, for a sizable minority of students and families, the end of the year brings familiar discomfort and worries regarding food security.
Local churches, K2 the Church and Southeast Christian Church, are well aware of this struggle, which is why they have partnered together to create a food and clothing pantry spanning the summer months.
“The pantry is available for anyone who might find themselves in need this summer, struggling to put food on the table or struggling to purchase appropriate clothing for the summer months,” said a representative from the Southeast Christian Church who wished to remain anonymous. “We understand that this drive is especially important for children because once school concludes, suddenly a lot of these students are unable to benefit from lunch programs that kept them fed during the school year.”
The K2 and Southeast Christian Church food and clothing pantry come at an ideal time, as food banks and pantries across the nation often cite the summer months as the most difficult for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, students who are at-risk or underprivileged often rely on their school to provide breakfast and lunch. When school concludes for the summer, these children can no longer easily obtain two of their daily meals.
Erica Sisto, a long-term employee of the Utah Food Bank spoke candidly about summer hunger and how the season is actually routinely the food bank’s most difficult.
“We never want to discourage people from volunteering because we appreciate anyone who chooses to volunteer their time and resources,” Sisto said. “But, truthfully, well, summer is tough because the demand for food is higher than any other season, mainly because children lack access to school-sanctioned food programs. Historically, we get the least volume of donations during the summer which is arguably when children need them the very most.”
Sisto further explained why the fall and winter months tend to be the food bank’s most lucrative seasons for donations and volunteer work. The “giving season” marks a time in people’s lives where they’re actively thinking about how they can help the less fortunate.
“It makes a lot of sense. People feel generous during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they want to give back. So, during those months we get a huge influx of individuals and groups looking to volunteer or donate in bulk. So much so that we tend to rely on the donations we receive during those end of the year months to help sustain us throughout the rest of the year. We always appreciate the public’s contributions, but especially during the summer when we need them the most,” Sisto said.
In addition to the general trend of summer hunger, there are other reasons why food and clothing drives are particularly important at this point in time. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the summer of 2021 was one of the hottest on record. If last year’s trends are to continue, it is imperative that families have access to nutritious food, hydration and appropriate clothing. Moreover, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced the hand of families who have never required such services previously. Even as families begin to recover from the shock of losing employment, many people are still living with the consequences of losing their jobs or significant portions of their income.
“We’ve seen it happen where families who need assistance will not participate in [food and clothing drives] because they feel embarrassed or unsure if their specific situation warrants help,” said the Southeast Christian Church representative and congregate. “And even now, even with all of the struggles we’ve faced as a nation, there are still people who shy away from help because they’re embarrassed. Or maybe this is the first time they’ve ever had to reach out for assistance. We want to combat those fears by creating a helpful environment where all are welcome.”
Granite School District took to its social media pages to encourage students and families to utilize the food and clothing drive, stating, “We highly encourage Granite School District families to take advantage of the monthly food pantry hosted by [K2 the Church and the Southeast Christian Church] during these difficult summer months. Summer marks a challenging point in time where we do not have the same resources to provide food for our students, which is why we are continually grateful for community-led food drives and initiatives to help fill in those blanks.”
If you are interested in participating in the food pantry or clothing closet, you can do so on June 11 or July 9. On both days, the event will last from 9 to 11 a.m. For the convenience of volunteers and recipients, the food pantry is a drive-up event. All you need to do to participate is bring a car to the location of the food drive and pop your trunk. The groceries will be placed in your car. If you are interested in browsing the clothing closet, it will also be available during pantry hours. All are welcome to participate, no questions asked. The location of the pantry is 1881 Vine Street in Murray.
If you are interested in making a difference this summer, the Utah Food Bank will be actively accepting work from volunteers in addition to donations from the general public.
“Summer is a great time to volunteer because it’s the time of year that we need the most assistance,” Sisto said. “If you’re interested in helping alleviate hunger this summer, [The Utah Food Bank] has lots of different options for individuals or groups looking to partake in volunteer activities. Or, as always, you can drop off donations at any time at any of our food donation locations.”