USU Extension 4-H Helps Utah County Youth in Need This Holiday Season

By Julene Reese | December 29, 2022


Utah County 4-H

With approximately 1,200 students in the Nebo Utah School District at risk of experiencing food insecurity, the meals they eat at school might be the only meals they get. According to Monica Hullinger, Nebo School District social worker, many students go without food when school is out for Christmas break. To ensure that these students don’t go hungry over the holidays, the Utah County 4-H Livestock Ambassadors launched their Meal Kits for Kids project in November.

With help from fellow 4-H members and their families, a team of eight ambassadors assembled and delivered over 200 meal kits to the school district for students in need. Instead of providing students with quick-fix meals such as Raman noodles and macaroni and cheese, they developed their own recipes for more nutritious meals: eight-can soup, chicken and rice casserole, and spaghetti. Each kit contained a recipe and the necessary ingredients.

Corianne Topham, Utah County 4-H livestock program coordinator who oversees the ambassador program, said there are needs right in front of us. 

“There are kids all over the world who are hungry, but in reality, there are kids who are going to school with our 4-Hers and possibly even some of our own 4-Hers who are hungry here at home,” she said. “The ambassadors saw that need and wanted to help.”

Reaching out to other 4-H members and the community, the ambassadors received more than $2,000 in donations to buy food for the kits. They held a meal kit assembly night at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds in early December where they worked with 30 other 4-H youth and families to assemble the kits. A few days later, they personally delivered the kits to Nebo’s Cupboard and Dragon Pantry at Landmark High School in Spanish Fork. The team helped make space for all the food while learning more about the pantry, which provides food, school supplies, and hygiene supplies to students and their families in need, with no questions asked. The Nebo School District simply asks that they pay it forward one day when they are able.

Sydney Jensen, a livestock ambassador, said it was a rewarding and humbling experience.

“It was a great reminder to be grateful for what you have,” she said. “I find myself wanting new things when other people just want food or clothes.”

About 4-H: 4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. 4-H is the nation’s largest positive youth development program. They focus on learning by doing. Through the unique partnership with USU Extension, they are able to provide opportunities for youth throughout Utah.                                                                                        

PHOTO ATTACHED: Utah County 4-H livestock ambassadors assemble meal kits for youth in need at the Spanish Fork Fair Grounds on Monday, Dec. 12. Photo courtesy of Corianne Topham