SALT LAKE CITY — Since the coronavirus pandemic started creating such drastic economic fallout, Utah Food Bank has watched the need for food assistance significantly increase.
Before the crisis began, 374,000 Utahns, and 1 in 7 Utah children, were unsure where their next meal would come from.
Between business closings, lengthy school closings and a surge in unemployment filings, it is projected that the number of food insecure Utahns will increase by an additional 165,000 individuals.
The forecast is based on Feeding America’s Member Impact Analysis, which could cause the cost of providing food assistance to increase by an additional $6.5 million in the next 12-18 months.
“We are seeing a lot of first-time recipients, and it’s hard for them to get past their embarrassment, and their pride, to come to us,” said Ginette Bott, President & CEO of the Utah Food Bank. “We try to make it easy for them and ensure they know we are here to help, which we can only do thanks to the incredible support we are receiving from our community.”
Usually the summer months are critical for Utah Food Bank and its clients, with kids losing access to school meals while donations decline. This year is different with the early school closings, and the community has really stepped up to the plate to help. One such example is Fidelity Investments, which moved up the company’s summertime food drive so they could help now, when Utahns need it most.
Through creative ways of engaging their employees, Fidelity Investments offered fun activities for reaching fundraising goals, such as leaders shaving or “saving” their beards (one leader shaved his beard after raising $35,000), and even taking a pie in the face. Between these activities and generous employees, Fidelity Investments has reached the incredible milestone of giving $743,307 in one month – one of the largest single private donations Utah Food Bank has ever received in its 27-year history, and which equates to 2.9 million meals for Utahns. Including this year’s donation, Fidelity Investments’ contributions over the last 27 years have yielded more than 1,600 volunteer hours, more than $3 million, and 1,818,561 pounds of food – the equivalent of over 13 million meals.
“We quickly pivoted to once again mobilize Fidelity Investments employees – even our newest colleagues as we’re hiring 200 people – to assist our fellow Utahns with some of their most basic needs during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Barlow, Fidelity Investments’ senior vice president and Utah regional leader. “This food drive is part of our company’s commitment to expand corporate citizenship efforts in this new environment by focusing on virtual volunteerism and expanded workplace giving opportunities. Our hope is that more businesses and individuals also will continue to contribute time and resources to Utahns during this critical period.”
The three things Utah Food Bank typically needs most are food, time and money. While they aren’t accepting external volunteers at the moment, donations of food and money are crucial to help them remain flexible so they can continue to expand their distribution services. Utah Food Bank expects to feel the effects of this economic fallout for months, if not years to come. With the food bank’s ability to stretch each $1 donated into $7.66 worth of goods and services, every donation, both small and large, has an impact on the lives of Utahns facing hunger.
Ongoing community support will be even more vital than ever as Utahns, and Utah businesses, struggle to recover from this. To find out more, or to donate online, click here.