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Utah Food Bank, pantries working to keep up with rising demand

Posted at 6:00 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 20:52:18-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive made its return after two years this past weekend.

However, preliminary numbers show a decrease in donations in a few locations.

Ginette Bott, the president of the Utah Food Bank, said numbers so far show a 12% drop in donations in Salt Lake City from 2019 and a 24% decrease in St. George.

This comes as the food bank and local pantries are seeing a rise in the demand for their services.

At the Crossroads Urban Center, executive director Glenn Bailey said they are staying pretty busy.

"In our case, it's actually worse now than it was during the pandemic," he said.

Bailey said during the pandemic, they served a lot of people who were on the streets and unsheltered.

He says now that the extra pandemic relief has fallen away, both of their pantries are getting busier.

"Families are dealing with food inflation and rents are out of control, so we're starting to see more and more families now," said Bailey.

Bott said the Utah Food Bank distributed about 70 million pounds of food during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That number for this fiscal year, which comes to an end next month, is on track to be 68 million pounds of food distributed.

"The need is still very high and the problem with food insecurity and Utah isn't going away quickly," said Bott.

Meeting the demand also comes with some other challenges and concerns, such as getting all that food from one location to the next, with rising gas prices.

"We have upwards of 70 vehicles that most of them are on the road at any given time, so the cost for us to distribute that food is one of our main concerns right now," said Bott.

With more than 200 partner agencies spread out across 29 counties in the state, the food bank and even local pantries at Crossroads Urban Center believe they can keep up with the demand.

"We provide emergency services for people to get through the day or the week or the month, whatever it is, and we're going to keep doing that," Bailey said.

A list and maps of food pantries throughout the state can be found on the Utah Food Bank's website.