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Murray Journal

Food ‘Gifting’ Provides Charitable Opportunity for Kids

Aug 03, 2016 08:22AM ● By Bryan Scott

Members of the Murray High boys athletic class pose for a photo at the end of their food drive in June. A competition was held between the boys and girls athletic classes to see who could raise the most food for the KidsEat! organization. – Lynda Brown

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Murray, Utah - Everybody needs food, kids especially. Murray High and KidsEat teamed up to ensure that happens.

Two athletic classes at Murray High held a food drive for KidsEat, a program designed to send kids home from the Boys and Girls Club and Neighborhood House with backpacks of food for the weekend, to finish off the school year in May.

“We could not run our program without the help of volunteers,” Lynda Brown, President of KidsEat! said.

With those Murray High volunteers, they were able to raise over two bins of food for the program.

 It all came about after local resident Barry Hecker, a retired professional basketball coach, came back from a two-week trip to Senegal where he was running a basketball clinic.

Hecker said he saw kids trying to survive by begging for money and food. Kids at the house he was staying were eating mush their mother made out of a bucket.

“It just struck a nerve…there shouldn’t be anybody who’s really not able to have some food,” Hecker said.

Upon his return Hecker coordinated with Brown and a few teachers at Murray High to try and provide some food for the kids that go hungry in Murray.

“[Hecker] was very instrumental in making this all happen,” Brown said.

Isaac Beh and Danielle Whittaker, who teach the boy’s and girl’s athletic classes at Murray, thought it would be good to hold a two-week competition between the classes on who could raise more food in bins given to them by Brown.

“Any time kids are given an opportunity to do good, I think it’s beneficial to them,” Beh said.

“[It’s] so rewarding that they understand that giving back is so important,” Brown said.

The athletic classes typically consist of lifting weights, plyometric workouts or some form of a grueling workout. The winners would get a day off while the losers would be put through a fitness test by the Marines that involved flipping tires and squats and sprints with somebody on their back.

The girls class won, overflowing the bin that was given to them with items.

“We had the marines come in and try and kill [the boys]…it was a pretty tough workout,” Beh said.

Beh said often times public schools get profiteers coming in trying to take advantage of the school and the kids to make themselves money. KidsEat, he said, is a great program he really respects.

“There’s always someone trying to make a buck and they’re pretending it’s for the kids and to help people,” Beh said. “But [Brown] really is a genuine person who is working and putting in her own sweat and labor to help kids.”

Brown calls what they do “gifting” rather than a food drive since the backpacks full of food provides more than just food.

“It’s not only a lack of hunger but when the kids aren’t hungry they have a sense of security, sometimes gifts that we take for granted,” Brown said.

Murray school district has 6,431 students and 1,941 students who qualify for free lunches whether they attend Title One schools or not. With 30% of students eating free lunches at schools, Brown said that might be the only meal the kids eat all day meaning they receive no food over the weekend.

Brown said KidsEat fills backpacks with about six dollars’ worth of food.

“So to provide only half of those kids receiving free lunch with a backpack, the cost would be $5.82 a week,” Brown said.

KidsEat uses granola bars, PopTarts, tuna, ravioli, crackers, containers of soup, peanut butter and raisins among other items to fill the backpacks. Some of their backpacks go to kids living in cars so they can’t give them anything that requires boiling water, microwaves or stoves.

“A year ago, I would’ve never thought of those things,” Brown said having incorporated the organization in October.  

Hecker said he hopes to see this food “gifting” process replicated over at Cottonwood High in the fall.

“You could do it all over the valley and affect different areas, not just Murray,” Hecker said.