Many hands make light work with the Utah Food Bank's Mobile School Pantry

May 09, 2017
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By Kathleen Pitcher Tobey, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah

Back in August when the school year began, those of us who work out of Regence’s Utah office were excited – but also anxious. We had, for the first time, signed on to support the Utah Food Bank’s Mobile School Pantry program. We specifically committed to provide nourishing food and the people to package and distribute it every month for the next nine months at East Midvale Elementary School.

Going in, we knew the problem of food insecurity in the state was great, with hundreds of thousands of Utahns not knowing where their next meal would be coming from or when. We had a sense of how the Food Bank’s new mobile school pantry program worked. We even knew roughly how many volunteers it took to make the food distributions happen at each site. What we didn’t know is how much food we’d need to distribute to take care of the needs at East Midvale for the year, whether we’d be able to get enough Regence volunteers each and every month, or if we’d really be able to make any kind of difference.

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Now that the school year is nearly over, we know the answers to our questions and realize our initial anxiety was misplaced. By any measure, our efforts were successful beyond what any of us could have imagined. Through the year, we funded the purchase and managed the distribution of 11 tons of nutritious food, which served more than 18,000 meals to more than 1,000 families.

Month after month, whether the day was sunny or snowy, we rolled up our sleeves to unload trucks, rip open shipping boxes, bag oranges and apples, pre-bag the food for kids who had only minutes to catch their buses, and carry bags for kids who struggled under the load. Every month was different, as we never knew what food the Food Bank would bring, how heavy it would be or how many kids would come. The Regence Utah team rallied to every challenge, working and reworking process flows on the fly, adapting to the needs of the kids.

The three dozen employees who volunteered throughout the year truly proved that “many hands make light work.” To all of them – thanks for your kindness and support. And stay tuned, we’ll be back with our big mobile pantry truck this fall to help brighten the lives and fill the tummies of students and families in our community who truly need our help.

This is a follow-up to the mobile pantry participation post we shared last November.

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