Ogden junior high schools benefit from successful MarketStar food drive

Thursday , October 12, 2017 - 5:15 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Ogden School District junior high schools are having their pantries stocked thanks to employees at MarketStar.

Three years ago, marketing solutions architect Garrett Erickson’s wife Hannah, a teacher at Mound Fort Junior High School, said she had students in her class who weren’t eating at home.

Erickson suggested holding a food drive to his MarketStar colleagues and the idea took off.

The first year they collected and donated 23,000 individual nonperishable food items. This year, both the Ogden and Provo branches of MarketStar gathered 41,000 individual food items and distributed them to five Utah schools — three of which are Ogden district junior high schools.

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“This was a great way for us to start something and empower and enable employees to get involved in community projects,” Erickson said.

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the “team” of employees who gathered the most food sat down for pizza with Mound Fort students before unloading the donations.

“It’s humbling when you see the need we have in the community,” MarketStar CFO EJ Harris said. “We have an awesome opportunity to support the community. It’s in such a small way, but it’s neat to see.”

The district had 74 percent of its enrolled students on free and reduced lunch last school year, according to Standard-Examiner archives. On top of that, their federally-funded summer lunch program feeds about 3,000 kids daily.

In 2014, there were 120,155 children under age 18 living in poverty according to a Voices for Utah Children report, which defined the poverty line as a family of four living on $24,008 annually.

In December 2015, there were 88,421 Utah households receiving food stamps.

Mound Fort Principal Bryan Becherini said his school is one of the 12 in the district that, thanks to a state calculation, is able to offer free and reduced lunch to all students.

He and school staff try to offer food to families in need, especially before long breaks or the holidays when students won’t be eating a school lunch.

While asking for assistance can be a sensitive matter, Becherini said they try to respect every family’s privacy.

“We try to keep the distribution to those people low key while making it public knowledge we have it,” he said.

Becherini said he appreciates the annual MarketStar donation because they make a point to donate a variety of healthier options —- not just pasta.

“It is a need we have in our community and we want to ensure our students are getting nutritious food,” he said.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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