By Bailey Eddington
The Royal Food Pantry/ Clothing Closet is a way Roy High helps their students by keeping them fed, clothed, and supplied. They have paired with the Utah food bank to help find Roy High and the ten other schools who feed into it find a more permanent solution, to make sure these kids have what they need. Jennifer Christensen, a past social worker, is in charge of this closet/pantry she hopes to provide for kids that need it and mainly to let the students know that at least someone cares for them. “When you have food insecurities life is hard.” says Christensen. This pantry provides breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack foods. They will even send home weekend bags to keep the students and their families fed over the weekend. They also supply clothes for the dress coded and for the people that just need clothes. Christensen also has supplied school supplies so unprepared kids or kids that can’t afford school supplies still have everything they need. “We are all about the knowledge.” Jennifer says “We provide everything from food to clothes to supplies to make sure students have everything they need to focus and to succeed in school.”
This program started out as one shelf of food and it has now grown to a whole room with boxes and fridges full of food. Christensen has been working on this for a year and they have grown the pantry tremendously with the help of donations from the football team, choir, the HOSA club, and many more groups at Roy High. They make sure to work with other organizations to share back in forth so everyone has what they needs, it’s all in the business of helping people. In the first month of tracking food which was October of 2018 they provided 86 services but, May of 2019 they provided 450 services.
Christensen tries to keep this pantry open as much as possible. If she is not there, the students can then go to many different people to get access including administration, Roy High’s mental health therapist, or the student advocates. The general hours for the pantry/closet are 7:30 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays. The school of course doesn’t want kids missing class so they try to get them what they need and send them on their way, or they try to provide a more long term solution like referring or connecting their family to a more sustainable resource. Christensen even said ̈When you come to school hungry, it’s hard to focus.¨
Christensen wants to crush the stigma that it’s embarrassing to get help. “People who need help are humble, and they don’t take advantage of the food pantry,” says Christensen. Students, teams, and clubs are taking more action and being more involved in helping and she mentions how amazing that is for everyone. Volunteering is an option and it is easy to help they send out wish lists, people can bring storage or food in, anyone can come by and ask how they can help. She has had many people helping and she has many stories of all the generous people. The school cleaned out the gym lockers and all the clothes left behind went to the closet, although that is an amazing donation of clothes they still all needed to be washed. “Our faculty, our teachers reached out and took some clothes home and they washed them, which was really cool, to think our teachers care so much about our students that they would take home clothes to wash them is really neat.” She mentions many stories of students, their families, and faculty helping out in anyway they can. “People are just willing to give and I think that’s what’s so awesome about Roy.” says Christensen.
Update, Jennifer Christensen has moved to another job as of October 1, 2019.