Local Pantry struggles with growing need from families who need help

Oct 18, 2022, 5:41 PM | Updated: 7:47 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — As inflation intensifies for Utah families, more of them are having a tougher time putting food on the table. Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry in American Fork is struggling to keep up with the growing demand.

Like other food pantries in the state, it is seeing a surge of new families in need.

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Tabitha’s Way food pantry is able to go back to in-store distribution.

Clients get to go through the pantry with a cart and pick out the foods that they like and that their families will eat. During the pandemic, families had to pick up food in boxes outside.

Right now, Tabitha’s Way is having a hard time keeping the warehouse and the pantry shelves stocked.

“Our numbers have gone up substantially just in the past six months,” said Kara Smith, social outreach coordinator for Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry.

The pantry estimated demand is up 50% from last year. In July, it saw 70 new families, and in August 150 new families. Now 25 to 30 new families show up each week.

Ginette Bott, President and CEO of the Utah Food Bank released a statement Tuesday.
“Utah Food Bank is seeing that the need for food assistance statewide is remaining at levels similar to during the height of the pandemic as many who are just getting back on their feet have seen their budgets slashed due to inflation. Utah Food Bank is one of a handful of food banks nationwide who distributes food free of charge to our 216 partner agencies statewide, but inflation means that it is costing us more while at the same time impacting our donors as well.”

“I think it’s due to the economy,” Smith said. “It’s a little bit worrisome and kind of just makes us scratch our heads and wonder what we can do to help these families more to get them on their feet besides with just food.”

“I could not survive without the pantry,” said Judy Hardman, who was picking up food for herself, and also for people who are not able to make it to the food pantry. She has a disability and has had a hard time making ends meet.

“Even though I have a large family, and they do what they can to help me out, but, they’re in the same boat I am,” she said. “Everybody’s having a really hard time right now. The prices are going up, and our paychecks aren’t going up.”

Tabitha’s Way is among more than 200 food pantries that receive food from the Utah Food Bank, which has distributed more than 70 million pounds of food statewide this year.

The Utah Food Bank continues to see demand that has been high since the onset of the pandemic.

Tabitha’s Way food pantry also gets help from the Bishops’ Storehouse.

Fewer food and cash donations are coming in, and the grocery stores where they pick up excess food have less food to give.

To make a donation or coordinate a food drive, go to tabithasway.org.

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