Pantry for students in need expands at Park City High School
It started with two freshmen who wanted to make a difference. They saw and heard that some students at Treasure Mountain Junior High School were in need and they decided to step up.
They put out a box at the school, dropped in some deodorant, toothpaste and snacks and let students take what they needed. Now, the pop-up pantry has moved to Park City High School and is almost bursting from its five cabinets in the counseling center.
“It kept growing and growing,” said Claire Booth, who helped start the pantry with Josie Slobodow.
Now, the two are juniors and are proud to see where the pantry is today. They no longer worry too much about running out of supplies because every now and then, a bag full of donations from regular donors will silently appear next to the pantry.
Booth and Slobodow are both members of the high school’s Student Council and first heard about the idea of a pop-up pantry from one of their advisors. They originally wanted to provide food to kids who showed up to school on an empty stomach or did not have the means to pay for lunch.
“Kids, when they are hungry, don’t focus at school,” Booth said.
But then, people started donating a large number of hygiene products. Since then, the pantry’s inventory has only expanded. It now has a whole cabinet for feminine hygiene products and another that is full of clothes.
“(We’re) making sure that every student is well prepared to learn in school and not distracted by if they are hungry or they didn’t brush their teeth or they need deodorant,” Booth said.
Since the two are wary of people abusing the service, they do not advertise it to everyone at school. Instead, they tell teachers, who can then tell students or their parents who are in need. The pantry also contains laundry detergent and food that could serve a whole family.
Students and parents can enter the room at the back of the counseling center and take what they need without the worry of someone seeing them or having to report what they took.
Booth and Slobodow do not keep an inventory of the items that are taken, but they are certain students are making good use out of it. They know, at least, that they have gone through two cases of Top Ramen containing 48 packets each this school year.
Entering the room in the morning and stocking it up is the most fulfilling aspect of managing the pantry, they said. Even though they never see the people taking or even giving the donations, they still find joy in seeing the items gone. “It’s a nice way for us to constantly be involved but still have the time to be students and focus on our studies,” Slobodow said. “It’s a nice balance.”
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.