SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Food Bank provides millions of meals to the hungry in Utah, and the organization has been around for more than 100 years.
Ginette Bott, chief marketing officer for Utah Food Bank, said the Utah Food Bank began when railroad travel was still prevalent.
“People were traveling by rail across the country, and Salt Lake was a stopping point, and there really weren't facilities for travelers, particularly women traveling alone,” she said.
The organization that once served travelers now helps residents across the state in their time of need.
“We're there for life-changing events,” Bott said. “If it's a death or a divorce, or you lose your job and you need help to just get from one paycheck to the next, the pantries are what's available for you.”
Bott said people shouldn’t hesitate to come to them for help.
“I think the biggest mistake people can make is being embarrassed by their circumstance,” she said. “So many families hesitate to reach out and to ask for help.”
Bott said their massive distribution facility is the only one of its kind in the state.
“We're a distribution, or a wholesale facility if you will, and the people can't come here for food, but we distribute product to 135 partner agencies across the state, who then in turn get that to the end-user,” she said.
And Bott said the food bank has more than just food.
“We get products... that are donated in kind,” she said. “So they give us, for example, detergent, dish washing soap, so that comes to us. In the winter months, we get ice melt that helps with driveways. We get diapers. We get paper towels. We get hygiene products. We even get pet food.”
Bott said those seeking help from the Utah Food Bank can call 211, which is the information referral hot line for the state of Utah. She said callers can provide their zip code, and then they will be directed to the nearest pantry.
Bott said they can always use help.
"You'll always hear me ask for three things: food, time and money,” she said.