ST. GEORGE – Hundreds of volunteers packed the Dixie State University Gardner Center Ballroom Tuesday afternoon to package meals for Switchpoint Community Resource Center’s food pantry and the Utah Food Bank.
Part of United Way Dixie’s “Day of Caring,” the food packaging event brought together university students, area businesses, city of St. George leaders and political candidates in an effort to package 100,000 meals, which will provide food for approximately 3,000 low income households per month in the St. George area.
The 100,000 meal goal is double the amount packaged from last year, said United Way Dixie Executive Director Rebekah Pectol.
“Day of Caring” is a celebration of volunteerism where people can volunteer to help with a variety of service projects, Pectol said.
The food packaging event is the largest of the volunteering events. This year about 500 volunteers donned hair nets, aprons and gloves and put together healthy meals for the needy.
At first glance the food packaging event seemed to be a giant party. Music blared throughout the ballroom, balloons adorned a stage with trophies and volunteers smiled and laughed while measuring, pouring and packing the meals.
“The community loves this event because it’s fun, it’s upbeat and they know that they’re actually making something that’s going to be used in this year,” Switchpoint Executive Director Carol Hollowell said.
The packaged meals will help Switchpoint’s emergency pantry and the Utah Food Bank Southern Distribution Center, which will distribute to 13 pantries in southwest Utah, Hollowell said.
Because of the large number of people Switchpoint serves, Hollowell estimated that the supply of 100,000 packaged meals would last about nine months.
Each meal bag contains enough food to feed six people, Hollowell said. And the food is nutritious, she said, not just a carbohydrate filler.
United Way Dixie and Switchpoint partner for several events throughout the year, a partnership that Pectol said is very valuable.
“We’re feeding families in need in Washington County so teaming up with Switchpoint is valuable,” Pectol said.
Hollowell echoed Pectol’s sentiments about the partnership between United Way Dixie and Switchpoint Community Resource Center.
“We work well together,” Hollowell said. “And it’s all for the common good of ‘how do we help our community break out of cycles of poverty?'”
Approximately 50 percent of the volunteers were students, staff and advisors from Dixie State, Pectol said, and the other 50 percent was comprised of area businesses, service organizations, city leaders, political candidates and community members.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike volunteered on a team representing the city of St. George and expressed his feelings about the importance of the event.
“It’s great. It’s going to help those people that need it the most,” Pike said. ” … It really is a labor of love to help people.”
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