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West Jordan Teams Up with Utah Food Bank in Citywide Food Drive

Dec 08, 2015 09:39AM ● By Taylor Stevens

By Taylor Stevens

West Jordan - Each day, one in five Utah kids are unsure of where their next meal will come from. Overall, 16 percent of Utahns—440,000 individuals—are “food insecure,” according to statistics from the Utah Food Bank’s website.  

These sobering statistics are part of what moved the city of West Jordan to partner with the Utah Food Bank for a citywide food drive that lasted until Nov. 23, just a few days before Thanksgiving. The timing of the drive was a push to help those hungry Utahns through the pang of food insecurity, which is often believed to be felt even stronger during the cold weather and holiday season. 

“In the past, we’ve done a food drive just with city employees, and this year we thought it would be fun to expand it to the public, knowing that there’s a lot of people that need these resources and something that we can help with,” Julie Brown, events coordinator for West Jordan, said. 

Residents were encouraged to root around in their pantries and cupboards “to see if they can donate anything to help with hunger in Utah,” according to Kim Wells, West Jordan City’s public information officer. 

As one of Utah’s largest cities, expanding the scope of the drive to the entire city had the potential to have a huge impact on the Utah Food Bank’s cause. The city felt it was important to try and cultivate that involvement from the West Jordan community this year, Wells said. 

“We figure that the broader the reach, the more people we can help. So it made sense to broaden the scope and involve the whole community,” she said.

In addition to engaging residents, West Jordan also teamed up with local businesses to promote the cause. Along with donation bins located in city facilities like City Hall, the fire station, and the West Jordan Justice Center, residents could drop donations off at locations like Riley’s, High Point Coffee and Yogurt Vibes, among other locally-owned and operated businesses.

In the past, the food drive had been a competition between city employees who were Brigham Young University and University of Utah football fans to see which group could bring more food and build momentum through rivalry. 

Although the city didn’t have an exact goal for how much food they wanted to collect this year since they used a different process than usual, it hoped to exceed the amount donated in prior years with the help and engagement of the whole community.

“After the donation, we usually kind of weigh it or calculate it sometime, so we will let people know how much we collect,” Wells said. “Obviously the more items we can get, the more people we can benefit.” 

Information from the city on how much food residents and city employees donated this year has not yet been made available (by press deadline). 

From one donation bin in City Hall for the city’s 500 employees last year to 14 collection bins for the city’s 110,000 residents this year, the city greatly expanded its scope to help those in need for the holiday season. 

“I think people don’t realize there are more people who are hungry than we often think. It’s more of a problem than we realize,” Wells said.