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High school senior gathering food for Valley House amid a surge of food insecurity

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 08:59:25-04

The Valley House homeless shelter has seen a recent surge in the number of people coming in needing food so one high school senior is making it her mission to help struggling families.

Canyon Ridge senior Jennifer Gifford knows firsthand how difficult it is to be part of a family that struggles to afford and have access to food.

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“Because when I was little, we did not really have much," said Gifford. “I used to live here at the Valley House.”

As a former resident of the Valley House, Gifford said she often watched her dad work extremely hard to give them a better life. Now that they are back on their feet, Gifford is taking on some responsibilities of her own, helping out her dad.

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“I’m kind of helping out now,” said Gifford. "I got a job so I can help my dad like he helped us.”

Not only is she working to help her own family, but she also wants to help some of the families at the Valley House who may be going through the same things her family went through.

“It is kind of sad to hear that people can’t afford much food so I want to help out,” Gifford said.

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As part of her senior project, Gifford spent Thursday encouraging friends on social media to donate food and volunteering her time to keep the food pantry stocked.

“Food prices are going up, gas prices are up, so people have to decide where their money is going to go,” said Kim Spiers with the Valley House. “The number of people coming to the door has increased for food.”

Valley House leadership said it is always heartwarming when high school seniors choose to spend their time learning about the Valley House — especially seniors Like Jennifer Gifford who has personal ties to the shelter.

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"The success stories that come from Valley House are always great to hear when you see them full circle,” said Spiers. “A lot of times you only see the beginning and so to know an end part is always really fulfilling for us.”

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The Valley House’s top needs for food are beans and rice, Hamburger and Tuna Helper, and any type of protein-rich canned soups. They accept donations Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.