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Murray Journal

KidsEat! founder Lynda Brown honored with Murray City Council Resident Service Award

Oct 17, 2018 11:29AM ● By Jana Klopsch

City Councilman Jim Brass presents Lynda Brown with the Murray City Council Resident Service Award. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave|s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

It might be easier to win a Nobel Peace Prize or Academy Award than it is to be honored with a Murray City Council Resident Service Award. When the Murray City Council announced that KidsEat! founder Lynda Brown was to join the small cadre of residents who’ve been given this award, nobody on the council could remember when it was last bestowed.

“No one out there is more deserving, and we really appreciate that,” said City Council Chair Diane Turner.

At the Sept. 18 city council meeting, Murray residents, KidsEat! volunteers, and state legislators Gene Davis, Carol Spackman Moss, and Bruce Cutler showed up to honor Brown. City Councilman Jim Brass presented Brown with a crystal award and announced that her name will be added to a plaque within city hall.

KidsEat! was created by Brown, who, while volunteering at the Murray Boys & Girls Club, caught two children stealing food from the pantry. The children told Brown that they had no food to eat over the weekend, but they were able to receive breakfast and lunch through their school cafeteria during the weekdays. This set Brown’s mind in motion and she created KidsEat! to fulfill this need in the community.

“Since I started filling backpacks in my basement three years ago, we have gone from five backpacks to approximately 350 per week,” noted Brown. 

Typically, Brown devotes six to eight hours a day to her foundation. “I do a lot of thinking in the night, too, about where to go, what to do and whom to contact, as these kids are always on my mind.”

 “We have amazing citizens,” said Brass. “If you see how many people volunteer to help this city; we have wonderful people. And Lynda is a prime example of that.”

Indeed, Brown has organized food drives and solicited donations from local companies. She has hosted fundraisers, from silent auctions to 5K races to celebrity golf tournaments. The retired nurse shows no signs of slowing down.

“These kids keep eating and hopefully growing, so we need to keep feeding them. They are innocent in their situation and they should not be penalized for the place they are in right now. These kids are our future adults who will own businesses, be neighbors to our children and populate our neighborhoods. They deserve a hand up to become the best they can,” she said. 

As part of her acceptance speech, Brown announced a welcome partner to her organization: USANA. Some USANA employees who heard of KidsEat! brought it to the attention of USANA Foundation Program Manager Ayugi Ntambwe-Kalala. She met with Brown about combatting food insecurity.

“They were so generous and willing to help here at home with the needs our valley's children have. This partnership will mean that all the children in the Murray School District that have weekend needs for food will have that need provided for starting in October,” remarked Brown. “Together, KidsEat! and USANA have even bigger long-term goals to feed many more children in need in the Salt Lake Valley.”

While Brown has made strides in trying to combat food insecurity, she admits there are still frustrating moments. “Knowing that there are children that I am not reaching who are going hungry—this weighs heavy on my heart and mind. And, the denial or lack of education about hunger by many people.”

Brown is still an optimist at heart. 

“Who can say no to feeding children?” she said. “I have always considered five a magic number. If the first idea doesn't seem to work, there are four more to choose from; even if we have not thought of them yet. I also have a great support network in my family and the KidsEat! volunteers who are so wise, and together we seem to get the job done.”

More information can be found online at www.kidseatutah.org.