FEATURE - "Pantry shelves bulge as 4-H club fattens more than hogs"

BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Ellen Cook – May 20, 2020


I pledge my head to clearer thinking,

My heart to greater loyalty,

My hands to larger service,

And my health to better living

For my club, my community, my country and my world.

Every 4-H club member has that motto memorized. It is the part of the pledge and the promise each participant makes when they join. In Box Elder County, one 4-H group put that pledge into practice with their annual pre-fair service project.

Bacon Bits 4-H Club, led by Amanda John, has 24 members, ages 9 to 18, from all over the Bear River Valley, who are busy preparing hogs (and one steer) for the Box Elder County Fair in August. That means walking, feeding, cleaning and caring for their animals daily. It is a big job, but one they are eager to do if it means quality livestock come show time.

But this group is learning what it takes to be winners, in and out of the show ring. Amanda is making sure of that. Part of their training applies to the third line of the 4-H pledge – My hands to larger service.

One thing their leader is adamant about is that her charges learn how to serve and why it is important. Each year the club does a project to help others. This year, however, the idea for the service project, a food drive, came from one of the club members, Brooke Misrasi, and her mother, Nikki.

“I was listening on the radio and learned that the scouts were unable to collect food this year,” Nikki said. “We just thought that would be a good project for the 4-H kids to help serve the community.”

The two put in a call to their leader and the food drive was underway.

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Members of a local 4-H club held a food drive for the Tremonton Food Pantry. Photo by Trinitty Cook - May 19, 2020

The club members were given a time frame (May 10 to May 18) and a goal of 2,000 pounds of food. One of the club members created a unique flyer that was printed up and then dispensed by the club members to family, friends and businesses. There were calls put out to grandparents, neighbors and acquaintances. This became a family project.

“It wouldn’t have worked without moms. That’s the truth,” Amanda laughed.

She suggested each member in the club set their own goal about how much food they could bring in, adding that if money were donated, it counted as 100 pounds for each $50 collected. To give them a standard, she promised to collect 200 pounds by herself.

One by one her 4-Hers stepped up and made their own pledge to add to the food total. By May 18, the John garage was full of food – 3,678 pounds, to be exact- and Amanda had an envelope of cash and checks totaling $2,635.

Nearly everyone in the club met or exceeded their individual goal.

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Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020

Most of the club showed up on Tuesday to sort and box the food items that ranged from pancake syrup to pinto beans. There were canned goods of every kind, cake mixes, bags of flour, spaghetti sauce and much, much more.

“I was tempted to go shopping,” Amanda joked. “There was some good stuff here.”

Western Ag Credit even donated 50 gallons of milk to the supplies. Monetary donations included $500 from North Box Elder Farm Bureau and $500 from Cody Reese at Farm Bureau Financial. Other contributors were Jeff and Myrna Kent and Double J Lawn Care, as well as Feldman’s in Tremonton.

It took four vehicles to haul “the haul” to the Tremonton Food Pantry where the 4-H club members helped unload it for a grateful, and astonished crew.

Tremonton Food Pantry Director Kathy Newman was overcome with emotion.

“Wow, I can’t believe how much you’ve brought,” she told the group as they carried in box after box.

“This has been a difficult time because we aren’t having our major food drives this year. This will really fill the shelves. What you have brought in and others will hopefully help us get through to the end of the year,” Newman added.

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But the local food pantry and its patrons are not the only ones to benefit from this successful service project. According to one 4-H parent, Jeniece Scott, this drive helped her shy daughter, Savannah, find her voice.

“Her goal was 150 pounds,” Jeniece said. “With food and cash, she did 863 pounds. It was amazing. She hardly ever talks but she talked everyone’s ear off. This has been an amazing learning experience for her, for me and my kids. I think it has been fabulous for the whole community.”

She, along with other parents, point to the club’s leader as the catalyst in the success of the drive and the club, itself.

Said Trinitty Cook, who has two sons active in Bacon Bits, “They wouldn’t do such a good job if they didn’t have such a great leader. She is always having them do something, even if it is picking up trash. She expects excellence and she gets it.”
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Trinitty Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020
Photo by Ellen Cook - May 19, 2020