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The City Journals

Murray Children’s Pantry marks first anniversary with ribbon-cutting

Jul 29, 2021 11:03AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The Murray Children’s Pantry celebrated its first anniversary with Studio 56 Dance Center students. (Photo Courtesy Lynda Brown)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Murray Children’s Pantry marked its first anniversary in June with a ribbon cutting that had been delayed by the pandemic. When they opened their doors in 2020, the coronavirus was ramping ever upward, in conjunction with the jobless rate as businesses closed. Now, with a vaccine in place and businesses opening, the pantry is seeing a whole new demand on their supplies.

“We started the pantry to fill the gap when schools closed. As the pandemic grew and continued, we expanded to helping all families in need. That need has not gone away. We are seeing more single-parent households coming for help,” pantry president Jim Brass said. “I don’t think it’s a case of being unable to find jobs as much as it is a case of housing being unaffordable right now. I saw where you have to make more than $20 an hour to afford a small apartment in the valley.”

In June, the Department of Agriculture reported that one in six households was experiencing food insecurity, a significant increase from one in 12 households as reported in February. The pantry gives away an average of between 3,500-4,000 meals per week out of their facility.

Partnering with Twin Peaks and Woodstock elementary schools in the Granite School District, the pantry has now been approached by Utah Virtual Academy, an online charter school, to help feed their children.

“They had a pantry, but COVID-19 forced them to close. It was on the sixth floor of the building they have their offices in. Not a great situation,” Brass said.

In addition to helping school children, the pantry reaches out to families and requires no official government documents to access their resources. For example, recently, they helped families affected by the Stillwater Apartment fire. They helped some elderly individuals who were referred to the pantry by the Murray Senior Recreation Center.

“We fill a gap that seems to exist in the community. We require no proof of need and ask no questions that would cause embarrassment or prevent people from coming in for help,” Brass said. “To be able to help that many people is one of the best parts of what we do. We had a family just move into the valley and were in need of food. The relief when they found us and could get food was amazing.”

An independent food charity, the pantry is not associated with any government organization, religious group or corporate entity. It remains entirely dependent on community support. The structure that houses the pantry was provided for use by the Murray Baptist Church. YouthWorks patched and painted the kitchen, AAA Restoration donated the restoration materials, and Chipman Roofing donated a new roof.

Many individuals drop off food and cash donations, and Brass credits local organizations for stocking their shelves. Food drives have been conducted by various organizations such as the Utah Falconz professional women’s football team, Studio 56 Dance Center, and local wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

“We do not receive any government funding and are not part of any surplus foods program. All our donations come from the community. We do have grant money from the Fenton Family Foundation that also helps us purchase food,” Brass said.

As an all-volunteer organization, the pantry invites the community to drop off food items every Tuesday and third Saturday between 10 a.m. and noon. The most needed items are cereal, macaroni and cheese, pudding cups and crackers.

“We are keeping up with the demand. Everyone comments on how fast we go through food; 600-1,200 meals go out on a Tuesday. That is a lot of food passing through. We do run out of some items but have sufficient funds to go and purchase food when that happens,” Brass said.

To drop off food donations, or if you need assistance, the Murray Children’s Pantry is located at 170 E. 5770 South. To learn more or to make an appointment with the pantry, more information can be found online at www.murraychildrenspantry.org