OGDEN -- Summer may mean sweltering temperatures for a lot of Utah residents, but Arby's Foundation and the Utah Food Bank partnered together to host an outdoor event for children who might need a snack and safe fun during their time out of school.
The Marshall White Community Center hosted the Arby's Foundation's "Hungry for Happiness" mobile tour, which made its 19th North American stop in Ogden on Monday. The tour will eventually visit 30 cities in total and will provide free lunch for child attendees and free games, such as hula hooping and tug of war. Part of the tour's purpose is to promote hunger awareness among children, which the Utah Food Bank says affects one in five children in Utah.
"We are trying to end childhood hunger throughout the U.S. A pretty alarming number of kids do not get the proper nutrition they need each day. Partnering with locals is an important part of making these successful wherever we go," said Kim Wright, the mobile tour supervisor.
With the possibility of many young children attending the events, the tour hires a volunteer team in each town to assist them. The volunteers are usually employees of Arby's restaurants near the area, all of whom take time to educate themselves about the problem of child hunger.
"It gives lunch to kids in an area where they might not get it. We do this every year, and each Arby's restaurant in the area makes a donation. It's really fun to do this, and it gets us interacting with the community more," Heber City Arby's General Manager Stephanie Gilmore said.
The Marshall White Community and Recreation Center, which hosts activities daily for all ages, has tried to be particularly cognizant of the hunger problem during the summer months, because children do not have the opportunity to have free food at school during their summer break.
"We have been giving out free bread here at the center, but it is important that we feed them the proper types of foods here. I see a lot of these kids every day, and getting food through resources like the food pantry is how they make it through the summer," Marshall White Director Tyrone Aranda said.
Karen Flanary, who serves on the board of Arby's restaurant group, shared her own experiences of interacting with communities that might have families struggling to put food on the table.
"We are trying to serve healthy food. We give them a turkey-cheese sandwich, apple slices and milk. Kids who come from a well-supplemented home look forward to summer, but those with problems getting food do not. They often have to skip one meal or more, since they cannot get breakfast or lunch from school, and they may have to skip dinner as well," Flanary said.
The event ended up hosting a meal and game fair with more than 200 attendees, mostly young children who stood in line to get a free meal or win prizes, such as animal key chains, from the game booths.
"What a fun event for the kids! We see a lot of people dealing with hunger in our community, and unfortunately, it's not just kids that go hungry. It's good people found out this event was going on,"said R.C. Martinez, who attended with his young daughter Gracie.
The mobile tour will continue with two events in Salt Lake City, at Sorenson Center and Liberty Park, before moving on.