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Murray Journal

Utah Virtual Academy teams up to provide food for Murray Children’s Pantry

Jan 27, 2022 11:11AM ● By Julie Slama

As part of the school’s partnership with Murray Children’s Pantry, Utah Virtual Academy students and families contribute food and help sort it for distribution. (LuAnn Charles/Utah Virtual Academy)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When the pandemic hit, Utah Virtual Academy administration knew there were students and families in need of meals within its own school community.  

They also knew there was no way they could serve their community within the confinement of their small food storage area, on the sixth floor in an office building during the pandemic’s guidelines, such as social distancing.  

So, they moved their food pick-up initially to the parking lot, but knew in the long run, that was not a viable solution, said LuAnn Charles, UVA student services administrator.

After not knowing how to help, Charles learned of the Murray Children’s Pantry, and reached out to see if a partnership could be formed.

“They’re close to our office, maybe three or four blocks away,” she said. “We’ve had some of our students go volunteer there and some of our families already have a connection there.”

Not only can UVA families pick up items they need every Tuesday and every third Friday, Charles said the school also is continuing its partnership with a school in Utah County to provide food for the pantry.

“Our parent advisory committee really wanted to be a good partner, so they came up with finding a way we could partner in volunteering, giving time, and resources, if possible,” she said.

The partnership is with Oak Canyon Junior High students, who recently brought a truckload of supplies to the Murray Children’s Pantry, and UVA helps to unload and organize the donations.  

The UVA-Oak Canyon partnership formed when Charles posted on her social media about the need for donations for one particular family who had struggled, and they had just gotten an apartment after living in a car. A former Idaho high school classmate she had lost touch with, responded saying his junior high students would love to help furnish that family’s apartment and provide food. Since then, Oak Canyon Junior High has continued to bring food donations; first to UVA, and now to their partnership pantry.

“It’s been a really great opportunity for kids to work together,” she said. “We’ve had great response from families coming out and helping, it serves our students in need, and it’s a real big boost to the Murray Children’s Pantry.”