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Retiring Taylorsville Food Pantry executive leaving big shoes to fill

Nov 03, 2017 03:56PM ● Published by Carl Fauver

Taylorsville Food Pantry volunteers will be under new leadership when President Morris Pratt retires (Carl Fauver).

Gallery: Food Pantry [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

Former two-term Taylorsville City Council member Morris Pratt is retiring next month, as president of Tri-Park Services, the 501c3 nonprofit corporation that operates the city’s food pantry (4475 South Plymouth View Drive, near 1600 West).

His impending departure has city officials scrambling, because so far no one seems to want to do that much work for virtually no pay.

“You are leaving some great shoes to fill, because I know you basically started the food pantry on your own,” City Councilwoman Kristie Overson said during the council meeting when Pratt made his announcement. “We’re very grateful for all that you’ve done and hope we can find someone qualified enough to replace you.”

City officials say they plan to advertise for the position. But given the extremely low budget for the mostly voluntary position, they are concerned about filling the slot.

“It’s no secret I have had the desire to step down for the last couple of years,” Pratt said in an open letter the city. “But after talking with several potential (replacements), they have not been willing to accept. I am hoping a new effort to find someone will be more successful in the very near future.”

The organization that operates the Taylorsville Food Pantry (Tri-Park Services Inc.) got its name because the pantry grew out of the efforts originally begun by three mobile home communities.

“Back in 2004, three mobile home parks in the area of 1100 West 4800 South — Majestic Meadows, Monte Vista and Majestic Oaks — were occupied almost exclusively by senior citizens,” Pratt said. “The residents got together to start gathering food and necessities for their low-income neighbors. I became involved as a member of the city council.”

Before long, Tri-Park Services was formed, nonprofit recognition was granted and the effort became affiliated with the Utah Food Bank. 

“I served on the Tri-Parks Board of Directors from the beginning but did not become president until after leaving the city council, eight years ago,” Pratt said. “It’s been a very important part of my life.”

The food pantry operates on a shoestring budget of $15,000 to $20,000 annually. Most of the funding comes from Community Development Block Grants, federal money doled out by Taylorsville City to various organizations.

“The city constructed our building and pays for things like electricity,” Pratt added. “But our ongoing budget comes from CDBG funds and about $5,000 each year in private donations.”

The Taylorsville Food Pantry received an unusually large donation this year from the Regal Cinemas chain. Fundraising ticket sales at the Regal Crossroads 14 & RPX (5516 South Redwood Road) generated $33,000, with the pantry receiving a third of it ($11,000).

 In addition to his willingness to work for almost no pay, Pratt has also brought professional skills to his position that could prove difficult to replace. As an accountant, he has handled the pantry’s tax filings and other bookkeeping.

“I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to replace your institutional knowledge and passion,” City Councilwoman Dama Barbour told Pratt. “You have provided a great service to the city and to those in need.”

While accepting the council’s appreciation Pratt was also quick to deflect the praise to the many volunteers who serve the Taylorsville Food Pantry.

“They are the ones getting their nails dirty,” he said. “Our volunteer base is very consistent and we couldn’t operate the pantry without them.” 

The Taylorsville Food Pantry is open six hours each week, Mondays 1–3 p.m., Wednesdays 4–6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon. 

Before leaving the city council meeting where he announced his retirement, Pratt promised he would stay on into next year if no replacement has been found.

“I won’t let the place close because it means too much to me,” Pratt said. “But I am also determined to see someone else take over.  It’s time.” 

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