SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Food Bank provided 28 million meals to the hungry in Utah in 2012, and they supply 135 pantries across the state.
Utah Food Bank officials said there are some things people should be aware of when donating to the food bank, including expiration dates.
“Expiration dates are put in place as a suggested date,” said Ginette Bott, who is the chief marketing officer for the Utah Food Bank. “If it comes to us and it has within a year we redistribute it. There are some products that can last five years. The food doesn't go bad, but the nutritional value decreases.”
Bott said there are some kinds of items that should go to the trash rather than a donation bin, but she said they still find a use for such donations.
“Cans of food that are without a label, or cans of food that are creased,” she said. “Cans that are bulging, things that have gone bad that people should probably throw away seem to find their way to the food bank, but instead of us actually throwing them in the trash we get them to the pig farmer when we can.”
Bott said they make the best of each donation, but she said there are some things that they prefer to receive.
“People will say, ‘What can I contribute? What do I buy?’ Well, you buy exactly what you would buy for your family for someone else's—All those staples,” she said. “The high protein items. The canned tuna. The canned chicken. We love to have canned fruit that is low in sugar.”
And Bott said sometimes even less-healthy options can put a smile on a hungry child’s face.
“The number one thing kids ask for is macaroni and cheese, so macaroni and cheese is huge,” she said.
Bott said they provide food for anyone who needs it.
“We're there for life changing events,” she said. “If there's a death or a divorce, or you lose your job and you need help to just get from one pay check to the next, the pantries are what's available for you.”
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