st. GEORGE — Hours of volunteer work and years of service culminated in a ribbon-cutting Thursday afternoon at the Utah Food Bank’s newly expanded Southern Distribution Center.
The facility’s parking lot at 4416 S. River Road in St. George was filled with TV cameras and onlookers as officials and volunteers dedicated the Linda Trujillo Volunteer Center.
That’s the name of the new building, which adds more warehouse space to the existing food bank originally built in 2011.
Utah Food Bank officials said the expansion of the distribution center in St. George was an important part of increasing their ability to fight hunger across the state.
“The need is increasing. More and more people are fighting hunger,” said Jacob Miner, Director of the Southern Distribution Center. “And that’s where we are today. We’ve learned that when St. George continues to grow, and so do his needs.”
Miner noted that the warehouse will allow the storage and processing of 700 pallets of food, nearly double the 400 pallets the facility could handle prior to the expansion.
In addition to additional warehouse storage space, new features within the facility include walk-in refrigerators, an expanded volunteer projects room with a dedicated volunteer entrance and registration desk, and staff meeting and workspaces.
The Southern Distribution Center serves the six southernmost counties in Utah: Beaver, Iron, Washington, Garfield, Kane, and San Juan. Last year the facility distributed 4.7 million pounds of food, equivalent to 3.9 million meals, to residents of Southern Utah.
The distribution center works with many local service groups including the Rotary Club and the Washington County School District.
Mike Carr, who has worn a variety of hats in his long service at Washington County Schools, is currently the support services coordinator for the district.
“Right now we have 15 mobile food pantries with one pending,” Carr reported to the crowd. “We have eight pantries at school with three pending. Overall, there are 27 of the 50 schools in the area currently served by the Utah Food Bank.”
Carr continues with some serious statistics. He said there are a total of 33,000 pre-kindergarten through 12th graders in Washington County, and 40% of them qualify for free lunch. Furthermore, he said, 725 students qualified as homeless.
“During the past school year alone, this distribution site gave £166,262 to mobile pantries and £44,740 to school pantries,” Carr said. “The total is 211,000 pounds. That’s $405,124 worth of food. That’s surprising. Thank you very much for this partnership.”
Mayor of St. George Michele Randall gave a brief address before cutting the ribbon as did Tim Martin of the St. Petersburg Interfaith Council. George, who is also a board member at the Switchpoint Community Resource Center. Martin said Switchpoint is another local group that has benefited greatly from its partnership with the Utah Food Bank.
The addition of the warehouse would never have been completed without the help of Markay Johnson Construction, a family-owned construction company in St. Louis. George. Skylar Markay Johnson is on hand to help cut the ribbon and provide a check to the Utah Food Bank.
“I’m so proud,” Johnson said. “I can’t think of anything I’ve done in construction that’s really been part of this food bank and association.”
Utah Food Bank President and CEO Ginette Bott was one of several dignitaries who came from Salt Lake City to attend the ribbon cutting. He told the crowd that when it came time to name the new facility, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind to whom it would be dedicated.
Linda Trujillo moves from Salt Lake to St. George in 2011 to run a distribution center. He brought his whole family with him. Over the years he became the rock on which food banks were built.
“You integrated yourself into this community, and you have done a lot for a lot of people,” Bott told Trujillo, who was in the crowd and was taken aback when his son, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren all showed up to share. his honor.
“As we walk in and out of these doors every day, we will think of you as a leader, as a mother, as our friend and as a volunteer,” said Bott. “We love you and thank you.”
Trujillo himself was overcome with emotion but his daughter Jenny and son Billy told St. George News that his family is very happy.
“Food banks are part of what makes us who we are,” says Jenny. “And having him as a role model has been incredible. To see what they did to honor her name in this – it means a lot to my mom. That means more than I can say.
Billy said his family really wanted to move to St. George and continues a long standing record of family service.
“Watching him start a food bank here is such an honor. It’s been great to see it reach out to the community and how the community has embraced food banking and really helped make it happen,” he said. “This is more than just a job for him. It was his passion. He loves helping people and wants to really help people in need.”
Three generations of Trujillo participated in the ribbon-cutting because Linda’s 14-year-old granddaughter, Jessie Cavasos, was also there.
“She’s so cool,” Jessie said of her grandmother. “I think he’s amazing because he loves helping people.”
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