KEARNS They consider it their mission; 17 volunteers contribute hundreds of hours a year helping feed more than 1,800 Utahns each month.
The Kearns Food Pantry, housed by the First Baptist Community Church in Kearns and run by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program for Salt Lake County (RSVP), is solely staffed by unpaid volunteers.
Bobbie Maberry, 73, director of the pantry, contributes 40 hours a week doing paperwork, helping the volunteers and giving food to the needy. She was one of the first volunteers for the pantry when it was established about 18 years ago. She took over as director more than a year ago when the founder of the food pantry moved out of the state.
"I feel that this is a real need in the community and it is also something that Christ commanded us to do," Maberry said. "Christ said 'feed the hungry,' and so this is how we try to do it."
The food pantry receives most of its food donations from the Utah Food Bank that brings food once a week to the pantry. It also receives a lot of food donations through Eagle Scout projects and private donations.
"We had two (Eagle Scout projects) within the last six months that brought a tremendous amount to the food pantry," Maberry noted, adding last month they fed people from 26 different zip codes.
Another volunteer, Linda Roscoe, 62, is one of the pantry's newest volunteers. She began volunteering just four months ago after she retired from Meadow Gold Dairy.
She has also volunteered at the Utah Food Bank for 12 years, but when she retired, she wanted to find other ways to serve the community. Then Maberry, who she has known for 40 years, suggested Roscoe volunteer at the pantry, too. Roscoe said she continues to volunteer at the food bank and now the pantry because of the people she gets to meet and the friends she makes.
"They are not strangers to me," Roscoe said. "They tell me about their families. They tell me about how they are feeling."
Roscoe mentioned two of the friends she has met over the years while serving at the Utah Food Bank. For the past seven years she has had the privilege of getting to know a 54-year-old, wheelchair-bound woman, and for the past four years Roscoe has sparked a friendship with a 74-year-old woman who lives on a tight budget of only $540 a month.
"I love talking to them. They are amazing people," Roscoe said, adding approximately 20 to 30 families come to the pantry each day, and some days 130 people will come.
To fulfill another need within the community, the volunteers plan to start a cooking class to help recipients learn how to cook with some of the food they are given.
"We found out that a lot of people that come here do not know how to use what they get," Maberry said, noting for example, many do not know how to use a can of salmon. "Many people will not take it because they don't know what to do with it, and yet, salmon is a very nutritious food."
In the past, the pantry has operated with 24 volunteers, but several of their volunteers have died, said Barbara Drake, RSVP program manager. Drake noted that the pantry is looking for more volunteers.
Volunteering is a way for people to get involved and give something back to the community, Drake noted.Comment on this story
"Food pantries provide an incredible service," she said. "People right now need emergency food, and to have a volunteer food pantry in their area makes it so much easier for them to be able to access that food."
Roscoe agrees that feeding the needy is a good cause and all should volunteer for the great experience they will have.
"Don't sit home and look at the TV, get out and do something volunteer," Roscoe said.