BY TOM BUSSELBERG
BOUNTIFUL – A partnership between area grocery stores and the Bountiful Community Food Pantry is paying off for some south Davis youngsters.
Elementary school students who come from low and moderate income homes receive food to take home, thanks to the Pantry Pack partnership.
Household income- eligible students attending Adelaide, Meadowbrook and Washington Elementary schools are being helped currently, said Lorna Koci, executive director of the BCFP.
“So far we’re able to help 155 children on the weekends now,” she said.
That’s a start on what Koci hopes will eventually be a way to help four-times that number of students. Some 644 students are eligible for help in the three Title I schools. The pantry has applied for a grant that would provide funds to expand the program, she said.
Stores such as Smith’s Food & Drug cooperate with the pantry to stretch dollars and provide as much food as possible, Koci said.
“One of the things we can do at Smith’s is to give the pantry some of our fresh products, like milk, meats, produce, and bakery, to augment, provide protein and fresh nutritious items,” said Marsha Gilford, public relations director for Smith’s.
A pantry truck picks up items several times a week from the area Smith’s stores.
“We give a significant discount” on those items the pantry must purchase, she said. Customers can donate to the pantry at any time by adding a contribution at the checkout counter.
The donated funds are converted to a Smith’s gift card and given to the pantry, which can then buy necessary items, Gilford explained.
“They can buy Pantry Pack items, chicken or roasts for any meat, anything they need from the store,” she said.
The Pantry Pack program started last March, receiving an initial boost from several community groups.
The Bountiful High School Interact Club volunteered to assemble Pantry Packs the night before that first Friday that students received them.
“The schools were just thrilled” to receive them, Koci said.
Viewmont High School students donated $7,500 to help get the program started. There were also many other donations of food and money to get it going, she said.
“We have Eagle Scouts who are doing food drives for their project,” Koci said. For example, Joseph Thompson of North Salt Lake collected more than 500 pounds in food. The Mueller Park 10th Ward also collected food for the program over a three week period.
That included lots of help from volunteers assembling the packs.
Two to three pounds of food is provided for each child. The big plastic bags are filled with an apple, oatmeal, usually some boxed milk, a microwaveable meal, peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, candy and a cookie.