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Utah Food Bank braces for ‘difficult’ months as schools reopen, pandemic presents new challenges

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Posted at 5:04 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 19:05:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Food Bank is preparing for a series of difficult months as the pandemic continues to present new challenges and greater need for donations.

Throughout the workweek, a steady stream of semi-trucks can be seen driving in and out of the loading dock at the Utah Food Bank.

The trucks are sent out across the state, delivering millions of pounds of food to 182 emergency pantries and agencies every year.

However, this year, the non-profit has had to match the same need and then some.

“We recognize families have been impacted by the pandemic in so many ways, most hope for a quick recovery, but we as an organization know we have to do everything we can not only across the Wasatch front but across the entire state of Utah,” said Ginette Bott, UFB President and CEO.

Bott said early on in the pandemic, they made the decision to eliminate volunteers in the warehouse, meaning they have continued to operate at a sometimes 200-person deficit every day.

“We’re always asking for food, time and money and we can’t do that anymore, so we’re having to be very careful, very cautious,” Bott continued.

As unemployment numbers soared, so did demand. Now, UFB expects demand to spike, even more, in the coming weeks.

“This is going to be a difficult time for so, so many people,” said Bott.

Among the ‘new challenges,’ increased need from those who are still unemployed and no longer receiving the 600-dollar unemployment benefit from the federal government.

“It will take a couple of weeks for people to realize they need food, and we’ll see a wave then,” Bott said.

Another major challenge is associated with the uncertainty of how schools will reopen.

“If the kids aren’t coming to school, or only half of them are there on any given day, how do we provide a program? How do we provide a product? And how do we do this without volunteers?” Bott continued.

Then there are the unknowns in-between.

“What if ski resorts don’t open? What if that group of individuals, they need help?” said Bott. “Many, many things are coming into play, that we need to look at, that are very different than in the past.”

Utah Food Bank said in a realm of unknowns, only one thing is for certain… donations are crucial.

“The next couple of months will be a difficult time,” Bott said. “We do need the food, we do need the finances and we need to prepare for the holiday season.”

To learn more about UFB or to make a donation, click HERE.