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Utah food pantries see high demand, fewer donations

Posted at 9:14 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 23:23:01-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Utah’s food pantries are facing what could be a challenging time as more people seek help because of the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.

“It’s just the start,” said Carrie Record, with Utah Community Action, a group that operates a food pantry near 31st South and Redwood Road in West Valley City. “Today was definitely a big spike. Normally we help on Tuesday, maybe 35-40 people. Today, we were looking at 50 people and we ended up closing and had people coming in.”

Record and her crew of 8 volunteers were not surprised to see the spike a day after restaurant dining rooms in Salt Lake County were shuttered leaving many workers who rely on tips empty handed.

“A lot of restaurant workers and bartenders were coming in today because they were afraid of not having food for their families,” Record said.

At times Tuesday, the line to receive a basket full of food stretched around the driveway of the community center where the pantry is located.

“Right now, we are serving everybody who has a need,” Record said. “We are taking it one day at a time and trying to ration out a bit of what we are getting.”

As the need for food increases, donations are decreasing. It’s a troubling cause and effect.

“I expect we are going to have a lot more people coming in for our services,” Record said. “You see the grocery stores are empty, so we are not getting those donations like we used to. We are probably going to have to ration to make sure we can feed everyone”

With so many unknowns on the horizon, Record and her team are digging in, offering smiles to every family they serve.

“Today we’ve gotten a lot more, ‘thank yous’ and a lot more, ‘I don’t know how we’d get along without you guys,’” Record said. “After serving the population and how kind they were, it’s definitely an amazing day for us.”

Those who need help can find a food pantry here.

The West Valley City pantry asked that donations be made to the Utah Food Bank.