Feeding the Hungry

Silicon Slopes Packages 1 Million Meals for Utah Food Bank

8,500 volunteers expected over three days, including hundreds of young members of the Church

Youth from many backgrounds, including hundreds of young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are helping to alleviate hunger in Utah. On Wednesday, September 28, they participated in 1 Million Meals, a service event at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.

Silicon Slopes, an organization that represents Utah’s business community, has sponsored the 1 Million Meals service event during its annual Silicon Slopes Summit for four years running. Hunger Fight, a nonprofit based out of Florida, organized the event.

The youth, aged 12–18, helped package meals for the Utah Food Bank, which will then distribute the food to more than 260 food pantries found in all 29 counties in the state. The meals will then be given to families struggling with food insecurity.

Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank, expressed her appreciation for the Church of Jesus Christ’s collaboration with the organization.

“[For] over 100 years, there’s been a connection between the two organizations. ... [Both work] collaboratively to help those in need and particularly those who are faced with food insecurity,” said Bott.

Bins full of brown sugar and oatmeal were scooped into bags, sealed and placed in boxes. After 42 bags were packed, a box would be sealed and stacked, and the table of volunteers would ring a cowbell to celebrate.

Dozens of tables, each sporting at least eight volunteers clad in hairnets and gloves, filled the huge convention center’s main room. A DJ performed throughout the evening, occasionally stopping to announce the number of meals that had been prepped, which would always induce a huge cheer from the crowd.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson joins volunteers at the 1 Million Meals service event in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on September 28, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elder Kevin W. Pearson, President of the Church’s Utah Area, and Sister Sharon Eubank, director of Humanitarian Services for the Church of Jesus Christ, were present at the event. They mingled with the youth and even helped package meals.

Sister Eubank commented on the large number of young women and men that came from all over the Salt Lake area.

“It’s blown the organizers away; they didn’t think youth would care about this,” Sister Eubank said.

“You invite them to come, and they just show up en masse,” added Elder Pearson.

Sister Eubank also pointed out that many of the participants come from different schools, faiths and backgrounds.

“This is a really great opportunity [for them] to get to know each other in different ways,” she added.

Elder Pearson said, “Just to put another number on that, these youth are going to do about 250,000 meals tonight. I’m sure we could get enough youth here to do well over a million themselves. The youth love to serve.”

A volunteer rings a cowbell to celebrate filling another box of meals at the 1 Million Meals service event in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on September 28, 2022.2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Jason, from Provo, Utah, was excited to be involved and give back to his community. He said the event reminded him of the biblical miracle of Jesus Christ feeding the 5,000 with loaves and fishes.

“I think this is our way of performing our own small miracle here,” said Jason. “Seeing all these people come out—that’s, I think, exactly the mentality that Jesus wants us to be in when it comes to serving people.”

More Utah residents will help package meals on Thursday, September 29, and Friday, September 30. Eric Farr, who helps lead the Slopes Serves division of Silicon Slopes, expects more than 8,500 total volunteers to participate.

“I think it represents who Utah is—it’s in our DNA to be givers of ourselves, and it’s just exciting to bring the community together across all faiths,” Farr said.

Dean Porter, co-founder of Hunger Fight, said the nonprofit expects around 1.1 million meals to be packed over these three days.

“We’re blessed to be partnering with organizations like The Church [of Jesus Christ] of Latter-day Saints and Silicon Slopes ... to do events like this all across the country and help those that are a little bit down on their luck,” said Porter.

Next week, Hunger Fight will collaborate with the Church’s IT department to pack about 300,000 more meals. On Thanksgiving Day (November 24, 2022, in the United States), Hunger Fight will be at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, to host a similar service event.

Mitch Sheridan, a youth leader present Wednesday, said, “I think all the youth are great examples of becoming Christlike, and I think opportunities like this are good examples for them to develop that and show that in their lives in following Christ.”

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