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Utah Food Bank Demand Triples Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Dec 1, 2020, 4:23 PM | Updated: 9:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The holiday season, and December in particular, is typically the best time of year for donations at the Utah Food Bank. But, this year, the food bank and many people who need their help are struggling in this pandemic.

“We’re seeing virtual food drives. We’re seeing donations coming to us online. But, that heartfelt holiday food drive spirit isn’t the same that it has been in years past, and we’re missing that,” said Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank.

Many Utah families are struggling to put food on the table. One in five kids in Utah don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Bott said the demand has grown since the beginning of the pandemic.

“2020 has been like no other year the food bank has ever, ever seen,” she said.

The extra demand for food started soon after the coronavirus arrived, and people started to lose their jobs, or hours at work.

“Service industry jobs? Today they had a job, tomorrow they didn’t,” said Bott. “How long can those people go without needing help.”

The president and CEO of the food bank said the organization decided not to panic, rather to be prepared.

“One of the saddest things that we’ve watched here is that so many people were first time users of these types of services,” she said.

Today, 40% of the people who now need help to feed their families in Utah never had to ask before.

“It was sad to see that they had to be put in that position because of nothing they did, but, simply of circumstance.”

Before the pandemic, the Utah Food Bank typically distributed two million pounds of food each month to 203 food pantries across the state. By the time coronavirus had been in Utah for a month, that amount had tripled. They are now distributing six million pounds of food each month. Part of the problem: the pandemic eliminated a lot of food drives at work, and in our neighborhoods.

“The need and the increase has been very, very sobering,” said Bott.

For those who can help, the Utah Food Bank always needs food, money, and volunteers. Right now, they’re only welcoming small groups of volunteers who need to call ahead for proper procedures. But, on this Giving Tuesday, any donation you make will be matched.

“This is a crucial time,” said Bott. “Our kids shouldn’t go hungry.”

It’s a great time to go online at utahfoodbank.org and donate if you can. You can also drop food in the bins at any Harmon’s Grocery or take to the Utah Food Bank at 3150 South 900 West.

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Utah Food Bank Demand Triples Amid Coronavirus Pandemic