Woods Cross mom makes it her mission to feed kids in needJan 12, 2023 11:50AM ● By Kaiimilani Crockett
(Left to right) Kaiimilani Crockett, Abby Preas and Emerald Haycock shop for food to donate to the USANA Kids Eat holiday bag project. Photo by Rhett Benedict
Michelle Benedict went to West High School where she saw lots of classmates who were homeless and hungry. After she graduated from West a few years later her and her husband moved to Rose Park where she saw a greater need for serving the people around her. Her small family loved the area and loved their neighbors and friends, when they had outgrown their house and moved to Woods Cross, she missed constantly serving her peers.
“Living in Rose Park, we saw tons of need and it was easy to jump in and serve,” said Benedict. “When we moved here, there was still a need, but it was more hidden.” Benedict missed serving her peers and sought for a way her kids could learn how to be service minded and serve their community.
After careful consideration, Benedict called the school district to see where her small family could help. She came up with the idea to provide bags of non-perishable food for students over the holiday breaks. They received donations from local businesses to buy the food and her and her family packed the bags. The first year this was done they were able to get enough bags and food to give bags to the whole elementary school. The next year, friends and neighbors of the Benedicts wanted in on the fun, they had more volunteers and were able to cover even more schools. The program grew bigger and bigger reaching a wide range of students and an ample number of volunteers from the community.
A few years passed and Benedict decided to create her own non-profit called “The Kids Next Door” in 2009. She received sponsorships from companies that allowed her to get bags of food to children in need not only for winter break, but spring and fall break as well. When students received the bags, some were curious to know where the food had come from, Benedict always answered “just from the kids next door.” Her goal was to teach her own children how to serve their peers and Benedict wanted the focus of the program to be kids serving kids.
The Kids Next Door program lasted for 10 years, and their service reached thousands of kids along the Wasatch Front. The USANA Foundation recognized Benedict for her outstanding program and brought her on to direct their local program, USANA Kids Eat.
Since 2019 USANA Kids Eat, a local program is working to eliminate hunger in Utah. More than 56,000 children along the Wasatch Front do not have stable meals at home and USANA Kids Eat works to ensure safe and healthy meals to those children in need.
USANA Kids Eat provides weekend bags full of non-perishable, child-friendly, and healthy food to over 65 local schools and organizations along the Wasatch Front. Since 2019 over 150,623 backpacks have been delivered to over 79 schools and organizations to children in need. With over 1,345,051 meals provided by USANA Kids Eat they are still working to reach even more struggling families to provide them with their needs. Not only does the USANA foundation serve locally, but they also send food to countries and communities around the world who do not have a sustainable food supply.
To donate money or volunteer to pack bags and get involved with the USANA Kids Eat program visit their website USANAkidseat.org.