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EATS merges with Summit Community Gardens


Two of Park City’s food-focused nonprofits come together to bolster their missions and expand their efforts.

EATS was formed in 2014 with the mission to improve nutrition in Park City schools by removing the processed foods and replacing them with fresh food and scratch-made meals.

Summit Community Gardens opened in 2012 and became a nonprofit in 2015. It now offers 132 community garden plots at the Matt Knoop Park in Summit County in addition to demonstration beds that grow food for local families in need.

Over the last several years, both organizations have seen their missions grow, and the gardens’ Executive Director Sloane Johnson says their initiatives began to overlap.

“We found ourselves in the same space at the same time,” said Johnson. “And, you know, rather than working kind of being in competition or working against each other, you know, we've kind of had the conversation on how we could work together better, and that turned into a conversation of merging.”

EATS originally focused on bringing healthy food into schools and teaching children about nutrition. Then it expanded those efforts to include after-school cooking classes and sustainability initiatives addressing things like food waste reduction. According to its website, EATS has taught more than 3,400 children for more than 350 hours using food they grew themselves.

Most recently, the group has prioritized food security and advocacy. EATS is now partnering with Fresh Market and Holy Cross Ministries to bring fresh fruit into elementary and middle schools.

At the same time, Summit Community Gardens has expanded its outreach efforts. In addition to after-school and summer camp programs, it also works with the Christian Center of Park City and the People’s Health Clinic to bring locally grown food to families who need it most.

With both organizations focusing more on food education and advocacy, EATS Executive Director Melissa Stock says it was time to combine efforts.

“We can combine our resources and look at our staff scheduling and look at our curriculum, and share our curriculum and then really provide it to the entire community,” said Stock.”

Stock says the idea has been floated around for the last couple of years. Not only are both organizations’ executive directors in favor, but so are both their boards of directors.

Stock and Johnson say both nonprofits are in the black and doing well financially. EATS recently received a grant from the Climate Fund for $40,000. They believe that merging will allow them to cut costs on duplicative efforts and potentially earn more funding.

“Both organizations are extremely sound and functional. And I think that's why, for so many years, it was a hurdle to get to the point of coming together, because we were completely surviving on our own,” said Stock. “It's a recognition that we can do so much more. And there's overlap in what we do, so let's truly coordinate and organize ourselves so that we're not duplicating efforts.”

EATS has one full-time and one part-time employee and Summit Community Gardens has two full-time and one part-time employee. And many volunteers. Stock says all employees will keep their jobs, as will both board of directors.

While the new organization doesn’t yet have a name, it’s looking to hire in the future, though jobs aren’t posted yet. New positions will include an education coordinator and a volunteer coordinator.