Annual Hike for Hunger takes steps to stop food insecurity

Event’s new home this year is Park City Mountain

Hike for Hunger

Participants in the 2018 Hike for Hunger stroll along Deer Valley’s Sultan Out and Back Trail. The Christian Center of Park City will host this year’s event, which raises awareness of food insecurity in the local community, on Sept. 16 at Park City Mountain
Park Record file photo by Tanzi Propst

This year’s Hike for Hunger has a new home — Park City Mountain.

The Christian Center of Park City’s annual event, which raises awareness of local food insecurity, will be held from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, and registration is now open by visiting, said Executive Director Rob Harter.

“We want to give a huge shout out to Vail EpicPromise and the resort, because they are making this a possibility,” he said. “We love working with them, and they are easy to work with.”

The afternoon will feature food, drinks and ice cream from partner vendors, as well as live music by the band CryWolf, Harter said.

We know that the heart of food insecurity is lack of access, so we decided to bring our food pantries to where people live.” Rob Harter, Christian Center of Park City executive director

Mountain Town Music is programming the live music,” he said. “We’ll also have face-painting as part of the event during that day.”

Of course, there will be hikes, three of them, Harter said.

“As we have done in the past, we’ll offer a hard one, a middle one and an easy one,” he said. “The hard and middle ones will be the lower and upper portions of Jenni’s Trail. Then we’ll do Payday, which will be the easy trail, right down the middle, and adjacent to the Payday lift.”

Hikers can start their excursions at 2 p.m. right when the event starts, Harter said.

“The cost of the event will get you a lift ride,” he said. “Some people may choose to just ride the lift up and ride the lift down. And that’s OK, too.”

Moving the Hike for Hunger to Park City Mountain’s base area was exciting and necessary, according to Harter.

“For years it was held at Deer Valley, and last year it moved to Canyons Village,” he said. “But construction in both locations has moved us to Legacy Lodge. Since there is already so much activity happening at the base, the Hike for Hunger will add to the energy that is already there. It will be a fun event for people who happen to be at the base. They can hear a little more about what we do locally to address food insecurity issues.”

The Hike for Hunger is not as much of a fundraiser as it is a “Friend Raiser,” Harter said. 

“We want people to show up and just enjoy this community event, because our main focus is getting the community involved and raising awareness of hunger and all we do to fight food insecurity,” he said.

A big part of the fight is the Christian Center of Park City’s long-standing two food pantries, located in Park City and Heber City, Harter said.

Jaime Mira, food pantry manager at the Christian Center of Park City, puts together a box of groceries for a community member at the Center’s food bank. Food pantries are one of the ways the Christian Center of Park City is addressing food insecurity in the community. The upcoming Hike for Hunger on Sept. 16 will raise awareness of the work the Christian Center does.
Park Record file photo by Tanzi Propst

“Over the past few years, the cost of food, due to inflation, has gone up tremendously, and when you add the price for food with rent and mortgage, that can be a real hardship for people who are struggling to live month-to-month or week-to-week,” he said. “So the goal of the food pantries is to alleviate that financial burden by allowing these families and people to do all their grocery shopping, if you will, for free. So they can save their money for rent and other things like medical bills.”

The need for food pantries grew during the coronavirus pandemic, and as the populations in Summit and Wasatch counties have grown, so the Christian Center has expanded its mobile food pantry program, Harter said.

“We know that the heart of food insecurity is lack of access, so we decided to bring our food pantries to where people live,” he said. “This year we have almost doubled our number of mobile food pantries in Coalville, Kamas, Heber and throughout Park City.”

The Christian Center increased its mobile food pantries from 17 in 2022 to 45 in 2023, according to Harter.

“Last year we served nearly 15,000 households between our two pantries in Park City and Heber City,” he said. 

Another program that has come out of the mobile food pantries is the Food Farmacy partnership the Christian Center shares with the People’s Health Clinic and Summit Community Gardens + EATS, Harter said.

“This program addresses the health inequality in our community, and it’s great to have this collaborative, holistic approach to health,” he said. “We work with and support local farmers by purchasing high-quality vegetables for our food pantries. When People’s Health Clinic doctors prescribe medicine for the nonprofit’s clients, they will also give them food prescriptions, and those who have prescriptions can pick up the food we’ve picked up from the farmers.”  

In addition to the food pantry programs, Christian Center of Park City also fights food insecurity with Snacks in Backpacks.

The program, a partnership with Summit Community Gardens + EATS and the Park City Wasatch County school districts, provides supplemental nutrition to vulnerable children in the community, Harter said.

“We just restarted this in conjunction with the start of the school year, but last year we distributed 6,300 snacks in backpacks in total between Summit and Wasatch county schools,” he said. “And this is another program that continues to grow.” 

Keeping on top of food insecurity needs is one of the Christian Center of Park City’s biggest accomplishments, according to Harter.

“People, particularly those who live in Park City, are surprised that there is a need,” he said. “We are always striving to get better at what we do. We always try to figure out what the needs are.”

To do that, Harter and his staff conduct surveys and talk with those they serve.

“Once we find the need, we test things out, like the mobile food pantries, for example, and find if the need is met,” he said. “If it is, we’ll do everything we can to pivot to continue the program.”

Hosting the Hike for Hunger each year is important for Harter.

“Just about the time we think that everyone is aware of food insecurity in the area, I will meet someone who doesn’t know,” he said. “So the Hike for Hunger is a reminder that, yes, food insecurity here is very real, and in many ways has gotten worse.”

Harter is grateful for the community’s support of the event.

“We have people who are recipients of our services come to join the event, and we have a ton of people from the community who support these programs come and be part of the event,” he said. “Having that full mix come together to enjoy the mountains is always a fun experience.”

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