BOUNTIFUL – More elementary school-aged youngsters from low income homes are going home with meals they can eat over the weekend Рwhen school’s not in session.
The Pantry Pack program, offered by the Bountiful Community Food Pantry, has expanded to serve more children in more schools.
Executive Director Lorna Koci said it’s grown from 150 to 250 packs being prepared and given to students each Friday.
“The community is making so many packs that we’re able to significantly increase our distribution,” she said. “The extras are being made by people around the community.”
For example, tonight, April 17, young women and their mothers from the Bountiful Heights LDS Stake will gather to assemble more than packs. The girls, ages 8-11, and mothers collected more than 7,000 items for the packs.
“The girls have collected all the food,” Koci said. Noting it’s different than what has happened typically, she added, “It’s girls, not Eagle Scouts” involved.
Other community groups also are stepping up. For example, 100 pantry packs were brought to the pantry on a recent day, prepared by community members.
That help has made it possible to expand the program beyond the original three schools, which are Adelaide, Meadowbrook and Washington Elementary Schools.
Legacy Preparatory Academy, Foxboro and Woods Cross Elementary have been added in south Davis. Vae View Elementary, in Layton, serves a studentbody that largely comes from low and moderate income households, and has also been added.
The word is getting out that many children are hungry, especially on weekends when they can’t access school meals, Koci said.
“The more we get done, the more hungry children we can feed,” she emphasized.
The picture of child hunger in Davis County indicates more than 11,000 children qualify for free and reduced lunch assistance in the Davis School District. That’s 28 percent of those enrolled.
It’s estimated 70 percent of children who qualify for free and reduced lunch go hungry over the weekend, Koci said. That would equate to more than 7,700 children from Davis County elementary schools.
The pantry packs are filled with “child friendly” bags weighing two-three pounds. Of the 10-12 items included, there is shelf-staple milk, instant oatmeal packets, fruit cups, raisins, microwaveable meals and apples or oranges.
Food comes from donations to the pantry and purchased food, donations from commuity organiations. Included in that are church groups and Eagle Scout projects, Koci said.
They are distributed to at-risk children each Friday in participating schools.