ROY — When volunteers from the Roy Baptist Church handed out bags of food to families Friday morning, they had no idea that some of the bags contained candy laced with THC.
Two children — an 11-year-old and a five-year-old — were hospitalized at Primary Children’s Medical Center Friday night after consuming “Medicated Nerds Rope” candy that was given to their families as part of a food distribution effort by the Utah Food Bank at the Roy Baptist Church.
Utah Food Bank president and CEO Ginette Bott said because of the coronavirus outbreak, there is significantly more need, so donations are going out almost as quickly as they come in.
“We are absolutely horrified that this product went out to any of our partner agencies, and can easily see how volunteers would not have known what to look for,” Bott said. “We apologize to any families who may have received this product and are changing our processes involving such donations immediately to avoid this happening again.”
Interim Pastor of the Roy Baptist Church John Thomas said church officials have been distributing food for the Utah Food Bank for more than a decade.
“We’ve worked with the Utah Food Bank many, many years,” Thomas said. “We’re just a distribution arm for them. ... It was a big passion of our former pastor.”
Thomas said church officials were working with police to contact the 63 families who may have received the candy infused with THC.
“We have a bunch of people working on it,” he said, noting they were devastated at what happened. “We’re trying to make contact and limit any exposure for anyone else.”
The Utah Food Bank distributes food each week at the Roy Baptist Church, 2025 W. 5700 South. Friday, volunteers handed out 63 bags of food, some of which contained the “Medicated Nerds Rope” candy, according to Roy police.
The packages, which contain 400 milligrams of THC, do say the candy contains THC and are marked with dosages. But it also looks similar to the ordinary Nerd Ropes that are extremely popular with children.
“The Roy Police Department is actively reaching out to those families who left contact information with staff at the church when they received their bag of food,” police said in a statement on the department’s Facebook page.
Police are asking anyone who received a bag of food from the church Friday morning to see if they’d been given any of the THC infused candy. If so, they are asked to contact Roy police at 801-629-8221.
“During our initial investigation we have learned that this location was the only location that received and distributed the candy,” the police statement said.
Police are still investigating where the candy came from and how it ended up in the food bags for families in need.
Thomas said church volunteers were trying a new distribution system due to COVID-19 precautions. Normally, people come inside the church and choose what they need. Instead, volunteers handed families bags of food that were packaged for them in a drive-thru set up.
“This was a new iteration (of the distribution) because of COVID-19,” Thomas said.