‘Souper’ fundraiser tackles hungerMar 16, 2020 02:59PM ● By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones
Latinos in Action and Kim Oborn, programs director, share their smiles and gather donations at the Kearns Reams. (Kathryn Jones/City Journals)
By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones | [email protected]
It isn’t every day that shoppers at Reams get the opportunity to buy more than the standard Sunday Super Bowl spread of chips and salsa. But on Feb. 1, they were given the opportunity to do just that.
Students from Latinos in Action joined with Taylorsville and Kearns high school football teams and students from four other schools in the Granite School District and stood outside with boxes to fill for hungry students and their families. It was a nice day — the warm before the storm that would be coming just a day after the big game.
And they were excited to be there.
“I love to help out with the families, especially families that need this food,” Elvia Anaya, president of Latinos in Action at Kearns High said. “I know a lot of families in our community need it, and I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to come together and help out everyone.”
Anaya, who was the cultural vice president for Latinos in Action last year, stood by another member of the group, Monica Acosta.
“I just like to do community service,” she said. “Families can’t afford meals, so this makes sense.”
Souper Bowl of Caring has been inspiring others to donate cash and/or shelf-stable food items since 1990. Because many families within the Granite School District are at or below the poverty level, there is a great need to provide food assistance.
“Many families are food insecure; they don’t always know when their next meal is coming from,” said Kim Oborn, programs director over food pantries and the Souper Bowl of Caring. “By having the pantries in the schools, parents are getting their kids to school. They don’t have to figure out, ‘How am I going to go and get food?’”
Transportation is an issue, Oborn said. “Sometimes our high school students and junior high students will take on the responsibility to bring food home for their families,” she said.
Last year, Granite School District schools raised 533,724 in cash and cans, or 130,000 meals for those in need (granitekids.org), including that well-sought-after cup of soup.
“Cup of Noodle Soup is kind of the cool thing,” Oborn said. “It’s a quick meal, and some of our pantries are set up where [students] can come during the day if they don’t have a lunch. They can get like a cup of noodle soup to sustain them.”
Health is important, Oborn said. It goes hand in hand with helping students to “be able to focus on their academics, their learning and their goals in life.” Being fed leaves no room to worry about “where their next meal is coming from.”
Currently, the Granite Education Foundation operates 33 mobile pantries, run by the Utah Food Bank, and 20 in-school pantries. Some of the pantries are in relocatables; others are in empty classrooms and even closets.
“It all depends on the room the school has,” Oborn said. “We try to accommodate whatever they have and make it work.”
What’s the ultimate goal?
To have “a food pantry in every school,” Oborn said. Two pantries were opened last November, and three more are in the works for 2020.