KidsEat! hoping to reduce childhood hunger in Murray
Jun 28, 2018 11:49AM
● By Shaun Delliskave
Murray Mayor Blair Camp and city council present a proclamation to KidsEat! founder Lynda Brown, declaring "No Murray Child Goes Hungry." (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
It may seem odd that a prosperous city like Murray has a hunger problem, but many of its children still find it hard to get a good meal every day.
KidsEat!, a local nonprofit that focuses on addressing children’s food insecurity in Murray and neighboring communities, has ramped up efforts to raise funds and attention for this still-growing problem.
Lynda Brown, founder of KidsEat!, expressed her frustration.
“The need continues to slowly grow since we started giving out backpacks in September 2017,” she said. “We’re unable to provide all the backpacks that are needed and can only help five of the 10 schools with a minimum of backpacks. We simply must do better.”
The indefatigable Brown has mounted a full-court press to attack the problem, recruiting the Utah Jazz’s G-League team affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, to call for donations. In March, the players paid a visit to the KidsEat! Pantry to help stuff backpacks and held a canned food drive at a home game.
“I think donations are staying the same, which is not good,” Brown said. “We need everything to increase, both food and funds. As we end this school year, we are approximately 500 backpacks short each week for the kids we have identified as needing help. We will be doing our first summer program for Murray Schools this year as well.”
KidsEat! helps feed the children along the Wasatch Front who rely on school lunch and breakfast programs for nutritious meals but often go hungry on weekends and holidays when school is out. KidsEat! provides backpacks filled with non-perishable and easy-to-prepare food that help feed hungry families, some of whom are living in cars or in single-room, short-term housing. Last year KidsEat! provided 9,000 backpacks and 123,000 meals and snacks. The organization is staffed by volunteers and has very little overhead, so 96 percent of funds raised go toward feeding kids in the community.
A recent heart scare briefly sidelined Brown, but she recovered in time to represent KidsEat! at a Murray City Council meeting recognizing her organization’s efforts. The city council unanimously adopted the proclamation stating that “No Murray Child Goes Hungry.”
“The need always remains the same: either food or funds,” Brown said. "Most of the food donations we receive come from outside the Murray area. There are a few Murray businesses that have supported us this year, however, with food gifts, including Mike Hale Acura, AAA, Murray Exchange Club, American Legion Post 112, California Pizza Kitchen, Murray City and several LDS church organizations. Our monetary donation from Murray has been small, with the exception of Statewide Insurance.”
To help raise funds, the community came together in Draper on May 20 for the “Help Us Bloom Garden Party.” Guests at this year’s garden event enjoyed a wine and cheese pairing along with a silent auction. Auction items included a painting donated by artist Ran Stewart, painted especially for the KidsEat! organization. Bobsled Coach Jeremy Holm was on hand to offer an opportunity to race in a bobsled and have lunch with future Olympians.
“Our fundraiser ‘Help Us Bloom’ was a pretty great success,” Brown said. “Our sponsors, Foothill Family Clinic, Black Diamond, Kenworth Sales and Chapman Richards, really stepped up prior to the event to make sure we have funds to continue for a few months. We currently use $7,000 per month in retail food in the 250 backpacks we give out. We need to at least double that to reach those other at-risk kids out there.”
For those interested in being involved in her endeavor, Brown said there are future events planned for which she will need help.
“On Aug. 18, we will have our first 5k at Sugar House Park called ‘Own Every Second,’ and on Sept. 21, we have our KidsEat! Golf Tournament at Murray Parkway. All these events need sponsors and donors, and we hope to see more come from the Murray community.”
More information on KidsEat! can be found online at https://www.kidseatutah.org.