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Holladay Journal

Souper Bowl of Caring food drive in Granite District was a game-changer

Feb 24, 2020 01:19PM ● By Heather Lawrence

A church group including Olympus students collected food donations Feb. 1 for the Granite Education Foundation. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

The day before this year’s big game, Granite District students participated in a game changer: the annual Souper Bowl of Caring. Older students volunteered for shifts at local stores collecting food for the Granite Education Foundation, and younger students collected items at school. The supplies are added to the district’s food pantries, which help food-insecure students. 

“Over 50% of Granite School District’s students [are] at or below the poverty level, [and] often face food insecurity. Donations from Souper Bowl of Caring help support our food pantries and other food programs,” said a statement from Granite Education Foundation. 

Olympus High’s Latinos in Action (LIA) collected food at the Sam’s Club 1905 South 300 West in Salt Lake City. A church group that included Olympus students took shifts at the Macey’s at 3981 South Wasatch Drive. 

LIA students Esteffania Herrera, Karen Concha and Samira Mineo took an afternoon shift at Sam’s Club. “I like helping people a lot, and when the teacher offered [this opportunity], it sounded like fun. I would’ve been at home doing nothing, so this is a better way to stay busy. It’s good to know that [the donations] go to people in our own district,” Mineo said. 

“We were free today, so we wanted to come and help out,” said Concha and Herrera. 

Olympus’s LIA teacher/coach Jackson White wasn’t surprised his students volunteered to participate. “The purpose of the LIA class is to teach young students leadership skills. The current leaders/students in LIA … look for opportunities to help out at school and the community on a regular basis.”

“The group of kids who helped with Souper Bowl of Caring are some of the most serviced-based students we have at Olympus. They sincerely enjoy helping others. I know a few of them even adjusted their work schedule that day so they could help out. They expect nothing in return; they just offer assistance because it is the right thing to do. They are an amazing group,” White said. 

Church youth leader Sydney Johnson was at Macey’s with her group, which included students from Evergreen Jr. High and Olympus. “It’s kind of fun to be together and do this. It helps out people at school. It feels nice to know that you’re making a difference,” said Evergreen student Laura Booth. 

Junior Anneci Archilbald and sophomore Brynn Fisher are students at Olympus. It was the first time either of them had participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring. 

“I have some friends who, I was not aware, go home on the weekends and don’t have enough food. I think this is a great way to take care of not just my close, personal friends, but also the other ones throughout the district who don’t have the support. Their parents just don’t have enough to feed them,” said Archilbald. 

Fisher was also glad to spend part of her Saturday volunteering. “I feel bad that kids don’t have enough food. I have enough, so I don’t know how it would feel. I like that this goes to help people in my own district,” said Fisher. 

Cottonwood Elementary School took donations during their weeklong event. Principal Kayla MacKay said, “Our participation with Souper Bowl of Caring went so well! Our PTA spearheaded the weeklong series of events, with parent Caroline Taggart participating as chairman of the committee.”

Taggart was hoping the project would make a difference not just for the kids who benefit from the food pantries, but also for those who donated. 

“We had the teachers explain that they were collecting food. It might not be a big deal for lots of our students to go home and have a snack, but it’s not like that for everyone. One teacher at Cottonwood told her class that she had been the beneficiary of the snack packs, and her class brought in the most donations,” Taggart said. 

Taggart made it fun with a football theme, dividing the grades into teams and recording donations as touchdowns. “Her committee created the cutest bulletin board, complete with a football field theme, and each grade level was competing for a goal of bringing items for the food snack packs. It was extremely successful!” said MacKay. 

Taggart said Krispy Kreme Donuts pledged to provide donuts for the winning grade. But in the end, “they were so impressed with the kids’ donations that Krispy Kreme and a generous neighbor brought in donuts for the whole school,” Taggart said.  

“My goal was for this to really make an impression on the students. Instead of having the parents write a check or bring in money, I wanted kids to get involved and donate the items. As a result, we got very few money donations, and you saw these little kindergartners bringing in huge boxes of juice,” Taggart said. 

“My kindergartner came home after her teacher talked to her class. She said, ‘Mom, I need to talk to you about something really important. There are kids just like me who don’t have enough to eat, and we need to donate food for them,’” Taggart said. 

David James, sportscaster at KUTV, is an active and passionate supporter of the Souper Bowl of Caring and school pantries. In a newscast on Feb. 1, he reported that one in seven Utah students is food insecure, which has a major impact on their performance in school. 

Though feeding kids isn’t a school’s main priority, James said hungry kids aren’t ready to learn. “Lots of people, including in the education system, say it’s not their job. But talk to staff — they can tell if kids haven’t eaten. They fall asleep, they can’t concentrate, they won’t learn. Hungry kids misbehave; they’re disruptive and then no one can learn,” James said. 

“None of us benefits if a kid doesn’t learn and drops out. That’s a kid who is more likely to consume resources, not give. They’re more likely to drop out, end up in jail or use public assistance. It’s about the odds,” James said. 

“The Granite Education Foundation is proactive; they go to the schools. The Foundation has 20 pantries going and requests from 20 more schools. Food pantries open up engagement with parents, and parent engagement always helps academics,” James said.