Utah Food Bank Low On Volunteers Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Mar 14, 2020, 5:48 PM | Updated: 6:41 pm

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah – As coronavirus concerns continue, the need for assistance has increased, particularly at the Utah Food Bank. They’re getting more calls for help as grocery store shelves keep getting emptied.

Most of us have seen video and pictures of empty store shelves – or even seen them for ourselves. For those who need food, it has become more of a challenge to get basic supplies.

It’s good to have a friend like Tiffany Vaughn. When is the last time you played in a cardboard box as an adult?

“I am having so much fun,” she said with a laugh. “This is the only way to get down to the very bottom.”

Her laugh and positivity have been needed lately because things just have not been normal.

“What else are we supposed to do? We don’t want to just sit home and just wait for things to get normal because that doesn’t help,” she said.

That’s why she and her family spent Saturday morning volunteering at the Utah Food Bank.

Thousands of people showed up to help, and their timing was perfect.

“We absolutely need help,” said Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank.

Ever since coronavirus concerns have increased, volunteers at the Utah Food Bank have decreased.

Part of that is because of the concern for gathering in large groups and many people decided to stay home, especially with school classes being canceled and parents needing to be with their children.

“All those things make perfect sense and they’re all important to what we’re trying to do as a state,” said Bott. “The biggest challenge is we still have people to feed.”

With store shelves emptying almost daily, Bott said the need for food has also increased at pantries throughout the state.

“Pantries are starting to have frustrations with their inventory,” said Bott. “The majority of the audience we serve are working individuals. Working, that’s the key. They’re working. The rest of us could possibly be out shopping. By the time their day is over, and they get to a store, that product is gone.”

That’s where the Utah Food Bank comes in.

To get food to all of Utah’s 29 counties, it takes a team of volunteers. In 2019, volunteers contributed about 107,000 hours of service.

Bott said that’s almost the equivalent of 54 full-time jobs. It made a big impact when people stopped coming in to help.

“This week, when our volunteers stopped coming, it was like we had a massive layoff,” she said. “Now the (coronavirus) spike has increased, the help has gone down. I had my staff down here yesterday. It was all hands-on deck. We were building food boxes. So, the staff is stepping up, but we still need volunteer help.”

That was why Holladay resident Reyn Soffe showed up Saturday morning. He heard about the need for help.

“I know it’s the right thing to do,” said Soffe.

Same for Kate Larson. Saturday was her 15th birthday, but instead of having a party, she asked her friends to come to the Food Bank with her.

“It’s good to do something like this,” she said. “You’re not on your phone, and you’re socializing and doing something good.”

Who knew getting off your phone, or even climbing into a cardboard box, could feel so good?

“Coming here and just doing our best, having fun, and helping each other,” said Vaughn. “I think that really helps. That’s emotionally healthy.”

If you would live to volunteer at the Utah Food Bank, visit their site to sign up for individual or group volunteering

Looking for something to do with so many things closed/canceled? The Utah Food Bank desperately needs volunteers. The…

Posted by Alex Cabrero KSL on Saturday, March 14, 2020

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Utah Food Bank Low On Volunteers Amid Coronavirus Concerns