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Utahns Against Hunger pulled out of event – the promised $50,000 never came

Posted at 7:15 PM, Aug 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-06 18:08:01-04

SOLITUDE, Utah — Preparations for this weekend's Taste of the Wasatch is ongoing at Solitude Mountain Resort, but after 19 years of collaboration, one organization has pulled out, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Friday.

Organized to invite restaurants to showcase their food and allow locals to talk face to face with the chefs, Utahns Against Hunger said they were supposed to receive almost half of the money raised.

“This event has always been promoted as helping Utahns fight against hunger," Executive Director of Utahns Against Hunger Gina Cornia said. "Not one dollar came to us last year.”

Cornia said they found out in January of 2018 that the $50,000 promised to them, was no longer available and that their already small budget of under $300,000 was going to be tight.

"Trying to make up for that shortfall has been very difficult because we haven’t recovered from that,” Cornia said. "It was devastating."

Karen Zabriskie, the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called 3 Squares that helps put on the Taste of the Wasatch Event, said she was faced with the decision of keeping her organization afloat, "or writing a grant check and shutting our doors."

Zabriskie said the decision had to be made because the funds she was promised never came.

"We had donors who had committed funds to 3 Squares that we did not receive," Zabriskie said. "That put us into a very difficult financial situation.”

But a look at Zabriskie's financial records from 2017 showed the Taste of the Wasatch event brought in more than $100,000. The expenditures show over $210,000 making them a grand total of more than $18,000 in debt.

With supplies waiting to be unpacked, the question remaining is where did last year's money go?

“The funds weren’t there," Zabriskie said. "We didn’t receive them.”

And neither did Utahns Against Hunger -- who said the funds would've been used to help low-income families and education for the legislators who are elected to help them.

Cornia said she hopes the event this weekend is successful, but that she hopes the chefs and locals understand the reality behind the dollars.

"They need to know that the money they put into the event, that money was spent elsewhere and didn’t go where it was committed to go,” Cornia said.