ST. GEORGE, Utah, Nov. 2, 2016 — More than 350 volunteers gathered at Dixie State University on Tuesday to package 100,000 meals and fight hunger in Washington County.
For a third year, the Dixie State University Student Association (DSUSA) hosted its Campus to Community Food-Packaging Event in conjunction with United Way Dixie’s 15th annual Day of Caring. Both DSUSA and United Way Dixie teamed up with the local Switchpoint Community Resource Center and The Outreach Program to put the meals together.
“Our whole aim is to reduce food insecurity in Washington County,” said Dillon McKinney, vice president of DSUSA Service. “There’s a larger homeless population here than a lot of people would think, so all 100,000 meals will be donated to the local shelters right here in our community.”
Following two prior food-packaging events in which 50,000 meals were packaged, volunteers for this year’s event took on the challenge to double the amount of meals in teams of ten. Half of the volunteers consisted of DSU students, faculty and staff, while the other half came from caring community and business volunteers.
United Way Dixie and its community partners provided the funding for the 25-cent meals, which provide six nutritious servings per package.
“United Way wants to thank all of our businesses, community volunteers and the students at Dixie State University for coming together and helping us reach our goal,” said United Way Dixie’s Executive Director Rebekah Pectol. “Thanks to them we’ve been able to bring back a project that is a local favorite and has a huge impact.”
All of the meals will be distributed through Switchpoint’s food pantry, which serves more than 3,000 Washington County households per month on top of the individuals who are housed at the resource center.
“The more food we have in our panty, the more families we can serve,” said Carol Hollowell, Switchpoint’s executive director. “Obviously, we can’t do this without volunteers; they’re crucial in every piece of what we do — not just at this event, but in everything.”
The pantry is one of many services Switchpoint offers, including an emergency shelter, community garden, resource classes, a thrift store, housing assistance and more. Hallowell said the center requires more than 300 volunteers per month just to stay in operation.
“I know a lot of times, when people come to projects like this they don’t really get to see the fruits of their labor,” McKinney said, “but I want them to know there are thousands of families who will benefit from this for a long time and they are very grateful.”