Most of us have a warm home, food to eat and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

Most of us.

But some do not.

In fact, Washington County School District communications director Steve Dunham and high school counselor Teresa Peterson said Wednesday on the Andy Griffin Show that most Washington County residents would be shocked by how many hungry/homeless students there are in our county.

Some sobering facts:

  • Last year Washington County ended the school year with 950 students that were identified as experiencing homelessness at some point during the school year.

  • This year so far there are 763 students who are experiencing homelessness.

  • 69 of those students are unaccompanied by a parent or court appointed guardian.

  • We have around 40% of kids who qualify for free and reduced lunch.

The good news is help is on the way. The county has been awarded a large financial grant from the State of Utah to build "Teen Centers" to help these at risk young people with basic needs that most of us take for granted.

Five schools in the county -- Pine View High, Dixie High, Snow Canyon High, Hurricane High, and Desert Hills High -- will be constructing Teen Centers next year.

While these Teen Centers will be open to any student who needs support, each of these schools has seen an increase in the number of students experiencing homelessness over the past few years.

These schools have been awarded large grants from the Utah State Legislature ($250,000 each) to complete this project.

Dunham said the Teen Centers will provide:

  • A safe space to do homework after school
  • A food pantry
  • Laundry facilities
  • A clothes closet
  • A mentor available during and after school to help students connect to community resources, homework help and apply for college scholarships and educational grants

Note: Milcreek already provides many of these services without a Teen Center.

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