CLEARFIELD — Clearfield High School hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday afternoon and an open house for its new food pantry, which will serve students in need and their families as well as the broader Clearfield community.

From Dec. 10–22, student body officers led a fundraiser for the pantry that ultimately raised a total of $65,596. The school’s pantry will also receive food donations from the Bountiful Food Pantry and the Utah Food Bank, allowing the school pantry to put its fundraising money toward high-need items like peanut butter and canned chicken.

The money from the fundraiser, combined with these community partnerships, will allow the pantry to stay open for “many, many years” to come, according to Jodi Lunt, the Davis Education Foundation Director.

In addition to the Bountiful Food Pantry and the Utah Food Bank, other partners of the project include Davis Hospital and Medical Center, the Davis Education Foundation and many financial donors in the community.

The event was attended by representatives of the Davis Chamber of Commerce, Clearfield City, Davis Hospital and Medical Center, the Davis County Commission as well as legislators and Davis district board members.

Christina Gillespie, the school’s student service officer who spearheaded the fundraiser, said that the project opened her eyes to the problem of food insecurity at her school.

“I knew it existed. I knew even that it existed at our school, but I didn’t understand how deep the problem went or how closely it affected the people around me,” Gillespie said. “You don’t see it when you walk down the hallway.”

When the students approached the Davis Education Foundation asking for causes in the community that they could support with their fundraiser, Lunt said her response was that food was an issue, since the area had been identified as an area that was highly impacted by food insecurity.

“The students took the food to even another level and said, ‘Do you think we can open a pantry?’” Lunt said. “And we said, ‘Absolutely.’”

While it’s not clear yet how many families will be served, the idea for the pantry was prompted in part by a nearby pantry at Northridge High School, which was nearing its capacity in the number of families it was serving. Families in need from the Clearfield community were also accessing that pantry.

Clearfield High’s free and reduced-price lunch rate is an approximation of the number of students who are food insecure and don’t know where their next meal will be coming from.

At Clearfield, about 27 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, higher than Davis School District’s overall rate of about 22 percent, according to the Utah Board of Education’s October 2017 survey of eligible students across the state.

The same survey listed Clearfield’s enrollment as about 2,000 students, so about 540 students at the school may be experiencing food insecurity.

Kellie Mudrow, an assistant principal at Clearfield, experienced food insecurity as a child. While growing up, she received free and reduced-price lunch as well as other assistance.

“Students don’t always worry about their own basic needs being unmet, but they worry about their families,” Mudrow said. “All of that interferes with their opportunity to come and learn with a fresh mind.”

This food pantry is part of Davis School District’s “No Hunger Zone” initiative, which seeks to have a food assistance program in all 90 schools in the district.

In partnership with Bountiful Food Pantry, every school does currently offer some form of food assistance, whether that’s a principal’s pantry with snacks, some of the 2,200 pantry packs distributed through the district each week, emergency food boxes, vouchers for families, or a community pantry, which is the most complete form of assistance.

Clearfield is the district’s third high school to open a pantry. Mountain High operates a pantry, and Northridge opened a pantry last year. In the spring, Layton High will also open a pantry.

Starting Feb. 7 through May 23, the Clearfield High pantry will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays. It is located inside the school building next to the library. This discreet location allows families to access the pantry through a set of nearby doors that open onto a parking lot in the back of the school.

Families who access the food pantry can also be connected to other resources, like free or reduced-price lunch, if they are eligible and not yet signed up.

If you wish to support the pantry at Clearfield or the “No Hunger Zone” initiative, visit dsdgive.net/event/80 or call 801-402-GIVE.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!