Olympus High kicks off school pantry with donation night Nov. 12Oct 28, 2020 03:14PM ● By Heather Lawrence
Olympus students and community members at a 2019 Friend2Friend event package food for the Granite Education Foundation. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
Olympus High School is starting a school pantry this fall. School pantries, which help students who are food insecure, are sponsored by the Granite Education Foundation, but their supplies and maintenance come from ongoing community donations.
“The Olympus community is amazing. This project is special because it will stay within Olympus High School and directly help students here who are food insecure,” said parent volunteer Jen Wunderli. Wunderli is a board member of Granite Education Foundation and has six kids who have graduated from Olympus.
“Our grand opening of the pantry is Nov. 12, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Olympus. We want to invite all the community to come and see what the need is and encourage them to donate. We’re always in need of shelf stable items, hygiene kits and monetary donations. We hope people will come that night and support our students with donations,” Wunderli said.
Wunderli started the charity Friend2Friend several years ago after serving in her kids’ schools and seeing the need that was there. In recent years, Friend2Friend teamed up with Olympus High to become an official school club.
“The kids at Olympus came up with the Fresh Food Five. Every student who is able to can contribute $5 to the club’s Venmo account, @friend2friend. The money will be used to buy fresh food for the Olympus pantry,” Wunderli said.
The Friend2Friend charity and school club have done big projects in the past, like the Night of Service, which was attended by hundreds of people last December. Students and community members tied quilts, collected toy donations, made Santa Sacks and packed food supplies for food insecure families.
“We can’t do the Night of Service this year because of COVID, which is a real disappointment. So we’re hoping the pantry project is something people will feel good about giving to,” Wunderli said.
Olympus senior Andrew Benson is co-president of Friend2Friend. “We want to raise awareness to sustain the food pantry this year and for years to come. Since the pandemic started, there has been a 300% increase in need in our district. We wanted to do something to combat that,” Benson said.
To promote the Fresh Food Five, Friend2Friend made and shared a video on social media to get the word out that if students at Olympus each gave $5, it would make a big difference.
“We thought this was a good time to start a food pantry at Olympus and start the fresh food box. The biggest impact that being a part of this club has had on me is learning to recognize the needs in the community, and then come up with ways to act on them. And I’ve learned how to gather support from my peers so we can show out in force and satisfy those needs,” Benson said.
Like all students, Benson was home for a two-week dismissal in late September and early October when COVID case numbers climbed above 15 at Olympus. Benson learned to be flexible with everything from his learning to his involvement as the yearbook editor and member of the volleyball team. Flexibility for Friend2Friend means managing the large number of kids who participate.
“There are over 200 students at the school who are involved in Friend2Friend. Obviously, we can’t have events where that many people come. We created a SignUpGenius, and we’ve listed all our activities and how many people can sign up. The kids get a link and then reply if they’re interested,” Benson said.
Donations for the Olympus food pantry can be brought to the opening night on Nov. 12, or to the office at the school anytime for the rest of the school year. They are most in need of shelf stable items like peanut butter, tuna fish, mac and cheese, spaghetti, Hamburger Helper-type mixes, rice, beans, pasta sauce, boxes of cereal, oatmeal and packaged snacks.
The Venmo account for monetary donations is @friend2friend, and should be earmarked for Olympus food pantry.
“I’m really excited about the fresh food aspect of the pantry. These kids are craving fresh fruits and vegetables. We’re going to create meal packs with all the ingredients and the recipe so kids can just grab it and take it home for a family meal,” Wunderli said.