BY BECKY GINOS
CLEARFIELD—A longstanding holiday tradition for immigrants learning English at the Davis Community Learning Center was nearly cancelled last week when they found out a district policy prevented them from bringing in outside food.
“For eight years this has been a super fun tradition for our students and staff as well,” said Center Director Merri Ann Crowther. “We get to sample food from around the world and get a little taste of their culture and traditions. It’s a shame we have to end it but I understand why the school district has that rule and I support it.”
Crowther said they were told they could bring food if they bought it. “But we have no budget and some of our students are from places like Ethiopia and Thailand. It would be difficult for them to find those foods to buy.”
The center is a joint effort with Davis School District and United Way of Salt Lake whose purpose is to strengthen families in the county by bringing community resources into the schools.
When Crowther announced the change, some students told her they wouldn’t come to the dinner. “They like to share their country’s food,” she said. “One lady told me she wasn’t coming and said several others weren’t going to either because they didn’t like this.”
As Crowther was explaining the situation to Principal Robert Kinghorn at Wasatch Elementary School where the center is located, he offered to reach out to some of his community contacts.
“The dinner is the highlight of the year,” said Kinghorn. “When I heard it was going to be cancelled I told them I’d make some calls. We have amazing business partners in Davis County. I don’t think I’ve ever been turned down when I’ve asked for something.”
Kinghorn talked to someone he knew at Texas Roadhouse in Layton and he checked with the owner Abel (Botello) who offered to cater the event for free. “They stepped up and did it for us,” said Kinghorn. “They didn’t charge a thing – they didn’t even ask. They knew it was a good cause and wanted to help be a part of what we were doing.”
When Crowther went back to the classroom and told the students that the dinner would be catered, they all said they would attend. “We had a better turnout than ever before,” she said. “It was really good food and we had an ample amount. We even had some left over. There were probably close to 70 people there.”
In addition to the food, Santa made an appearance too, Crowther said. “Everybody was happy and very appreciative,” she said. “It was a grand party.”