MarketStar is strengthening communities by transforming a long-standing food drive, Pack the Pantry, into a sustainable program that will provide support for the MarketStar Growth Pantry. The pantry is an Ogden School District-wide student and family tool to support the newly established Community School Student & Family Resource Center. This resource center is the result of MarketStar assembling community partners to mobilize a large-scale student food assistance program.
The MarketStar Growth Pantry owes its beginning to a small corporate initiative but what many may not know is that it has deep roots in MarketStar’s culture and was central in the company’s journey to formalize its corporate social responsibility in a nonprofit organization.
A History of Caring at MarketStar
In 2014, a passionate MarketStar employee advocated for high risk students at a local school where their spouse worked as a teacher. At this school, they witnessed children going home at night and on the weekends without food, something no child should have to go through. Because of his passion and deep love of his community, Garrett Erickson suggested the very first corporate MarketStar Cares initiative, Pack the Pantry.
The program encouraged employees to donate non-perishable food items to stock the food pantry at the local inner-city junior high, Mound Fort Jr. High. The donations coming from MarketStar delivered overwhelming support for the school and its students, exceeding expectations in giving students what they need to succeed – food to help them feel safe and secure while they learn. From then on, Pack the Pantry quickly became a cherished program by both MarketStar employees and the community.
“Pack that Pantry started as a small effort by my wife and I to help her students have what they needed to get through times when they didn’t know where meals would come from. When we brought the idea to MarketStar, the leadership team’s response to get the whole company involved was amazing,” Garrett Erickson, first chairperson of Pack the Pantry reminisces. “To see how this effort has grown over the last six years to include more schools and impact more and more families is a testament to MarketStar’s commitment to its community and its people.”
What Garrett probably didn’t realize at the time, however, is how big his push to do more in our communities would become. What began as a team initiative quickly grew into something the whole company could get behind, and so it did. MarketStar saw the value and impact it could have to change the lives of others, and Pack the Pantry became a highly anticipated annual event. It also became a shining example of one of our core values – We Care.
A Compass for the MarketStar Foundation
The phenomenon of Pack the Pantry resulted in the creation of MarketStar Cares, the first step the company took towards formalizing its social responsibility programs. Other initiatives found names for themselves here, such as Operation Orange Santa and Global Day of Service. The momentum created by the first initiative and the realization of what MarketStar can impact inextricably tied itself to the heart of MarketStar’s culture. This is because it allowed an outlet for what was already there – people possessing deep caring and passion for making things better in our communities.
The beloved precursor to the MarketStar Growth Pantry became one of the cornerstones of the MarketStar Foundation, established in 2019 and orienting its key focus areas around these established programs the company had already created to elevate their impact. Even the MarketStar Foundation’s mission and purpose, “create growth that strengthens our communities,” clearly references our purpose and seeks to drive them into the future.
Results of Pack the Pantry Over the Years
Since 2014, MarketStar has donated more than 187,000 food and sanitary items, impacting more than 2,000 students in both Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah. This year in Pack the Pantry’s first 100% virtual drive, MarketStar raised $60,000 total for kids and families all over Ogden to benefit from. With the acceleration that the MarketStar Foundation provides, over 300,000 meals can be distributed all across the Ogden School District. Employees, friends, family, and other community donors were able to participate due to the accessibility of the virtual donation platform.
Part of Something Bigger
With 77% of Ogden’s School District students coming from economically disadvantaged homes, there is a high percentage of at-risk students at all 20 schools in desperate need of food essentials that can impact their ability to focus and grow in academic achievement. The MarketStar Growth Pantry can now serve the community on a larger scale than ever before with the Community School Student & Family Resource Center and translate its donations into real impact for struggling families and students everywhere in the district. From helping one school to helping all schools in the district, it confirms the level of commitment the people of MarketStar have in strengthening our communities.
The overwhelming success of Pack the Pantry ensures that the MarketStar Growth Pantry will be kept stocked the whole year. This means the Community School Student & Family Resource Center can have a place to store resources children and families need beyond what they get in school. Located at James Madison Elementary, the community center is a space to store, triage, and distribute needed items to students throughout Ogden School District’s 20 schools.
MarketStar’s dedication to community pulled in partners from around the city to collaborate and donate to increase the good we can do together. The power of collaborative impact to care for our communities is realized when we all put a hand in to lift another. The legacy of Pack the Pantry continues through the MarketStar Foundation and has laid the groundwork for its future success. Caring and community is at the core of this company and our impact will only grow from here.
To learn more about the MarketStar Foundation visit: https://www.marketstar.com/en/marketstar-foundation