Smith’s Delivers $70K Gift To East High Emergency Food Pantry

Nov 21, 2018, 7:54 AM | Updated: 7:56 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The students of East High School in Salt Lake City started an emergency food pantry because they do not want anyone among them to go hungry.

Smith’s Food and Drug on Tuesday made a big delivery of $70,000 and commitment over the next three years to support the pantry.

“I know there’s a lot of kids that are dependent upon it,” said Samiuela Langi, an East High student senator. “They come after school to get snacks. It’s a really great thing That’s grown into something amazing.”

This is a great story for Thanksgiving week: a school community coming together to support each other. However, this is not a Thanksgiving feast they’re providing for fellow students. This is emergency food: bagels, milk and fruit. This partnership is all about nourishing students throughout the year so they can learn.

“There are students that are worried about just the basic needs,” Langi said. “That come to school hungry. They have hardships like not having a place to shower not having a place to do laundry. We’re just trying to help them.”

East High students stand outside the pantry.

East High students stand outside the pantry.

Each day, before and after school, around 120 students pick up food at the “Leopard Stash” emergency food pantry. Canned food is available to take home if students need it.

At East High, 68 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. That means 1,300 – 1,500 students at East High and their families are food insecure. Nearly 100 students are experiencing homelessness.

“I actually never knew about the homeless population at East,” Langi said.

He said he assumed his classmates all had homes.

He now knows some of their stories.

“How hard it can be to think about where you’re going to stay?” he said. “How can you take tests and study when you don’t have a place that is quiet?”

Smith's gave a large donation to the East High School student pantry

Smith’s gave a large donation to the East High School student pantry

Karina Soto, a senior, has been there herself.

“There was a while where we lived in a domestic violence shelter,” she said. “So, East High really helped me prosper beyond.”

The school has helped Soto and her family with food, clothing and other resources.

“So I can come and learn,” she said.

It’s also helped her feel part of the school community.

“It’s important for every student that goes to school to be a part of something so that they feel welcomed in everything they do,” Soto said. “So,

She’s just one student among many at East High School traveling that path and learning life’s lessons.

“What may have not seemed possible is now possible,” she said. “So, now you can experience what a true high school experience should be like.”

Students have been operating the pantry on community donations. The generosity from Smith’s will help keep it stocked.

“The student body here is tremendous,” said Aubriana Martindale with Smith’s Food and Drug. “They are excited about the pantry, but more importantly they are excited about helping their peers.”

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Smith’s Delivers $70K Gift To East High Emergency Food Pantry