Fighting holiday hunger: Two organizations work to keep Utah kids fed over Christmas break

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SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Friday is the last day of school for 2019 and while kids are excited about their winter vacation some students rely on their school for meals and don’t know how they’ll survive two weeks with little or no food in their homes.

On Thursday afternoon, volunteers unloaded carloads of donations at the Granite Education Foundation warehouse, a last-minute scramble to get food to the 22 school pantries before kids go home Friday for a holiday break until January 2nd. The organization’s CEO Brent Severe explained that half of Granite District students are at or below poverty level.

“They’re concerned about how they’re going to make it through the holiday season,” Severe said. “So that’s when the Granite Education Foundation steps in and provides pantry packs, meal packs, things to go home with the kids to help assist those needs during the holiday season.”

Meanwhile in West Valley City, the USANA Foundation’s Kids Eat program opened a new facility Thursday to pack and distribute weekly backpacks of food to children. The foundation says 1 in 5 Utah kids go home to empty shelves and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz was there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

“What happens on the weekends? What happens around holiday season as we’re about to experience?” Dr. Oz asked. “These kids who don’t have food are embarrassed. They’re ashamed. They don’t want to ask for food even though they’re hungry. And when young people don’t have the right nutrients, their brains don’t develop. They can’t learn. They don’t thrive and they run into problems as they get older so let’s invest in young people through Kids Eat.”

Both Foundations say the need is huge – and so is the appreciation. 

“Just yesterday we had a mother in tears because she didn’t know if she was going to make it through the holiday season without this assistance,” Severe said. 

For more information on the Granite Education Foundation, go to: https://granitekids.org/

Granite Education Foundation: Home GRANITE STORIES Living in Survival Mode. I work with a family of four children (all elementary age) who were chronically homeless. They have been to five schools in the last year.granitekids.org

To learn more about the USANA Foundation’s Kids Eat program, visit: https://whatsupusana.com/2019/11/usana_kids_eat_launch/

USANA Kids Eat | Feeding Kids, Fueling Minds – What’s Up, USANA?A Bright Beginning. Next month, a big ribbon will be cut, and the doors to the USANA Kids Eat packing center will open to the public. People from all across Utah will come together to celebrate the occasion with the first food-packing event.whatsupusana.com

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