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Park City Rotary Stuffs Snack Bags For Wasatch County Students

KPCW Radio

The Park City Rotary Club put a Thanksgiving twist on their Tuesday meeting, with a service project benefitting students in need.

Usually, a guest speaker addresses the Park City Rotary Club at their weekly meetings, but sometimes the group swaps out its regular programming for a service project. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, rotarians lined up with empty bags, stuffing them with snacks for Wasatch County students. Rotarian Kate McChesney led the Snacks in Backpacks project after connecting with David Johnson at the Christian Center of Park City’s Heber Campus food pantry. McChesney says Johnson sent her shopping with a very specific—and cost-effective—grocery list to fill 445 snack bags.

“Ultimately, it comes out to less than a dollar a bag for what he sent me with, which is microwavable popcorn, some soup, some hot cereal and some granola bars," McChesney said. "What they have already donated is they have chocolates, they've got crackers, and then they've got three or four different fruits that they'll be putting in the bag later this afternoon. So I didn't necessarily maybe get the healthy part of the snack, but there will be healthy snacks put in later this afternoon.”

The bags will be delivered to schools in the Heber Valley, and then the schools’ counseling services discretely pass them along to children in need. Johnson says this week, schools reported a need for 326 children, up from just 36 at the beginning of the year.

Rotary Club President Colin DeFord says the timing worked well for this project, because kids will be out of school for the holiday, and many children rely on schools for nutrition. As a community service organization, DeFord says the club is happy to extend a helping hand to those in need in Wasatch County.

“We're not just the borders of Park City, or Summit County, or Utah, in that matter," DeFord said. "We have a lot of international projects we go on, so we're really happy just to go into our neighborhood.”

McChesney says local food insecurity isn’t widely recognized by the general public, even though there are many organizations providing food services to the Wasatch Back.

"It's really enlightening to know that this is something that's needed every week, not even necessarily within the Heber Valley, but more often, maybe, even all of Summit County," McChesney said. "I think we can look within ourselves and really understand that it doesn't take a whole lot to feed a village."

Johnson says the Snacks in Backpacks program is always seeking volunteers to fill snack bags for distribution to schools. In the way of food donations, Johnson says individual meals, such as ramen noodles; popcorn; crackers; and hot cereal are the program’s top needs. Visit kpcw.org for a link to more information about the program.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.