SALT LAKE CITY -- One in five children are reportedly undernourished in the Granite School District alone, and a mobile food pantry program aims to help provide food to those in need.
Deb Coffey, development director for the Granite Education Foundation, spoke about the need for such programs
“We have 68,000 students in our school district, and 65 percent of our kids qualify for free or reduced lunch,” she said. “We have a lot of needs that we're trying to meet, and one of them is through this wonderful mobile food pantry delivery."
School officials, like Woodrow Wilson Elementary School Principal Jadee Talbot, said it's a problem that can't be ignored.
“Before I became the principal here, I knew of child hunger on a smaller level, but the more I’ve gotten to know: it is a deep-rooted problem that we absolutely need to do something about,” he said.
The goal of the program is to let kids focus on their education, rather than where their next meal is coming from.
“We want to make sure that our students don't have outside worries or concerns, and that their primary focus is on education while they're here in the classroom, and when they're at home with their families, that they're taken care of,” Coffey said.
The Utah Food Bank and the Granite Education Foundation wanted to make the process as easy as possible for families, so there is no sign up or paperwork necessary, you just need to show up.
“But sign up, as far as sign up goes, you don't need to sign up,” Talbot said. “Food is available for those who need it. So you just get a schedule, look at our schedule on our website, and then get here and the food is free.”
The pantry will be at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School once a month, and educators expect it to be of great help to the local community.
“The secretaries now answer more phone calls about when the food pantry will be [here], you know, compared to the other things that they're normally doing, and, as you can see by the line, there's going to be a steady flow of folks that really need this and will benefit from it,” Talbot said.
The Granite School District plans to reach 20 elementary and high schools with mobile pantries by the 2016-2017 school year.
For more information about the mobile food pantry at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, click here.