Tri-City Exchange seeks financial support to clear up land ownership issue, remain open
Jun 8, 2022, 9:49 PM | Updated: 11:01 pm
NORTH OGDEN — It has been a fixture since early in the COVID-19 pandemic as it helped families in need, but recently the Tri-City Exchange found itself in need of financial support in order to stay open.
Founder Mike Larson said the Exchange is still plenty busy, giving assistance to well over 1,800 families per week between regulars and those who show up for Friday community days.
“COVID might be ending, but now we have food insecurities that are just through the roof with inflation, now they call it price-flation where you’re paying the same price but getting smaller amounts in boxes, gas prices are over $5 today, and housing—more and more people can’t afford to eat,” Larson told KSL TV in an interview Wednesday.
Larson said the difficult economics have not spared the Exchange. He noted as an example that he used to run 6 freezer trailers to keep supplies cool for the Exchange as well as other food banks, but he’s since had to reduce his operation down to one continuously-running freezer and one that turns on when needed.
“My fuel cost went from $13,000 to $23,000 a month,” he said.
Also recently, Larson said he learned one of the co-owners of the property where the non-profit Exchange resides met some economic hardships as well.
“If I don’t buy my partner out, we’re going to lose our property and we’re going to have to shut down,” Larson said. “It’s a very real risk, you know. We owe $619,000 on the property.”
Larson said the land could be rolled into the 501(c)(3) designation, but not until the other owner is off the property.
“We’re trying to reach out to donors and short, long-term financing—whatever I can find to get this done quickly,” Larson said. “The timeframe is very quickly. I have to buy this person out very fast.”
Larson did not elaborate further on the timetable.
On Wednesday afternoon, several people showed up to the Exchange to make their case and explain the difference the organization has made in their lives.
“I do know that it’s helped many people,” said Sylvia Randall, who has volunteered at the Exchange. “Maybe some people have been able to go on a trip or they’ve been able to stretch their budget to pay extra bills where they’ve gotten the food that’s been given out here.”
Circumstances were dire for Roger Hinds, who found himself trying to support a wife and two teenage kids.
“We were renting a house from a company that kicked us out because they wanted to raise the rent,” Hinds said. “Now, we live at a motel.”
He said his wife learned about the Tri-City Exchange through Facebook.
“(I) told (Larson) if he needed somebody to mow his lawn, I’d help him out,” Hinds said. “He helped me out by giving me food to help feed my family.”
He said it was now time for the community to stand behind Larson.
“It’s immaculate what he’s doing,” Hinds said as he tried to hold back the emotion. “I just can’t say enough about the guy. He’s a God-fearing man. I don’t know. He’s a special person in my book.”
Larson said he was working tirelessly to keep the Exchange open long into the future and was hoping someone or a group of people in the community might be able to come forward to help see the non-profit through the property issue.
“I’m scared to death (of) this debt we have to take care of,” Larson said. “By showing the good we do, we can reach some people to help.”