Nearly 15 percent of children in Wasatch County are food insecure, according to Feeding America. In hard numbers, that’s 1,350 kids under the age of 18 – 52 percent of whom are estimated to be ineligible for federal nutrition assistance.
To help curb that troubling statistic, Wasatch High School decided to try to make a tangible difference for the underserved in our community. This year, WHS launched its Community of Caring class in which the students’ main prerogative is to manage the WHS Food Pantry.
The pantry, which is located in the West Campus building, is a critical hunger relief program managed by students for students. It provides food items and toiletries for families in the school community who are struggling and in need of a little extra support.
“When presented with the opportunity to supervise this class and a food pantry, I was both excited and not sure where to begin,” confesses WHS AP Biology and Psychology teacher, Char Dawson. “I decided to look at it like a start-up not-for-profit company and take it a day at a time.”
Lending A Helping Hand
Community Action Services helped kick off the program, providing 4,000 pounds of food to the pantry before the school year started. The Heber City Police Department also pitched in with a large donation, as did the Deer Creek Ward. The pantry also relies on ongoing contributions from the community.
The program itself is fairly simple. Students in need can ask a counselor for a tag that includes a locker number and combination, or pick up a tag outside the pantry. The student then visits an online Google Doc and places his or her “order” using the given locker number and combination. This way, the students are able to remain anonymous, while also getting the items they need.
The Community of Caring students then make a list of items for each student from the Google Doc, gather the items from the pantry shelves and load them into the assigned locker. Students receiving the items can then retrieve their order from the locker at his or her convenience.
As for the Community of Caring students and their teacher, they couldn’t be happier helping their fellow classmates and community members. “My students have been amazing with their hard work and enthusiasm,” Dawson says. “The support from the community has been incredible and makes me love this valley even more.”
Want To Help?
Donations can be delivered to the pantry Tuesday – Friday from 2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. For more information, please contact WCSD Communications Director Kirsta Albert at 435-640-1638 or [email protected].
What Students Are Saying
”I love that we become close to each other and our community — no one is left behind” (Brenda)
”What I like about the food panty is that it gives me the opportunity to make a difference in my community.” (Kayla)
”This class is the best way to start the day! On a sleepy Monday, carrying and sorting food donations wakes us up and makes us feel good. Community of Caring helps us make a difference and remember what’s important: to love on another.” (Angel)
”I love the feeling of being able to make a difference. It is so sad to me that people don’t even have enough food and so being able to help makes everything better. I always leave with a huge smile and so much happier than before I came to the food pantry.” (Katelyn)
”In this class we aren’t just sitting around waiting for someone to do something, we are the ones taking action to help other students and the whole community.” (Sierra)
”I love the opportunity to serve and help people. It feels good to make a difference in the community.” (Sydney)
”I love this class! It gives me the opportunity to help others.” (Venida)