Grizzlies Without a Den


Kassidy Babcock

The food pantry aims to give necessities to struggling students and their families.

Bailey Van Wagoner, Business Manager, Managing Editor, Web Editor

As the cold of winter settles across West Jordan, the homeless and low-income students of Copper Hills need help from their community.

Students are classified as homeless by Jordan School District when they meet the standards listed in the McKinney-Vento Act. This federal act defines homeless students as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” With this definition, Milonie Taylor, the Homeless Liaison at Copper Hills, says that 78 Copper Hills students are classified as homeless.

These students, constantly shifting from place to place, have little in the way of consistency or supplies. Necessities like food, clothing, and hygiene products are difficult to come by for these teens, and the Copper Hills food pantry is an invaluable resource to them. The pantry, located by the doors to the student parking lot, is a discreet place for students in need to get anything from shampoo to prom dresses. Homeless students haven’t always had this resource, however.

The food pantry began as nothing more than a small closet in the Counseling Center. It housed simple lunch options, like granola bars or instant noodles, for students without the money for food. As the needs of students have grown and evolved, so has the pantry. And, the pantry continues to grow every year when the needs of Copper Hills are assessed and donations are given to meet those needs.

Last year Rickee Stewart, a Copper Hills teacher, realized the scarcity of winter coats in the pantry and used her wedding registry to raise money to buy some. After the success of her project, she has continued her campaign to help not only the 78 homeless students, but also the half of our students on free or reduced school lunch. Stewart believes that while there is still much that can be done to help homeless students, Copper Hills must also give attention to the approximately 50% of students from low-income families. In reference to these students, Stewart said, “The biggest misconception is that the only kids in need…are the ones that are registered as homeless. When, in reality, almost half of our kids are on free or reduced school lunch.”

Stewart asks two things of Copper Hills students: be aware that the food pantry exists and utilize it. “If you are hungry or if you know someone else who is hungry, come get help. It is there for you,” she says. Students can visit the food pantry at any time: before or after school, at lunch, or between classes. The process is easy and anonymous, and students are treated with the utmost respect.

To replenish the food pantry, students and their families are encouraged to donate during the “Please Feed The Bears” campaign every November. This is the easiest time to donate as contributions can be dropped off to almost any teacher, some of whom will offer extra credit for donations. Stewart advises that students listen to morning announcements this month to hear when donations will be accepted and what donations are needed in the pantry this year. While November is the most convenient month to donate, contributions are accepted year-round in the main office. Every donation helps.