Utah Food Bank preparing for federal government shutdown

Sep 26, 2023, 1:35 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Food Bank is watching the potential federal government shutdown very closely. KSL’s Tamara Vaifanua reports on how their operations would be impacted to ensure workers don’t go without food.

Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank, said they’re prepared to handle a temporary shutdown – but their needs could change depending on how long it lasts.

“A variety of recipients could be impacted if this goes for an extended period of time,” Bott said.

The uncertainty of a government shutdown weighs heavy on those who operate the Utah Food Bank.

During the last shutdown in December 2018, Bott said low-income Utah families who rely on WIC benefits — Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — to buy healthy food were impacted.

“We saw a couple of things,” Bott said. “The young single moms, the formula, and the diapers that they get from WIC that’s really a challenge. Those are two items that we don’t carry here all the time so we would need to get them purchased and try to get them here or if we could share from other food banks across the country, but every state is going to be in the same situation.”

With WIC benefits ending immediately, SNAP funding – the supplemental nutrition assistance program – would go out as normal through October.

“The SNAP program is paid through October. Will they be ready for November? We have no way of knowing,” Bott said.

Bott expects to see a spike in clients and will keep tabs on the 240 pantries they serve throughout Utah to make sure there’s enough food to go around.

“Here at the food bank, we have to ask for things that we need — food, time and money,” Bott said. “We can’t do what we do without him. We can’t do what we do without the help of your viewers.”

That’s why monetary donations are so vital to the Utah Food Bank.

Bott said 60% of the donations they receive are from people – not businesses – these are folks who fell on hard times at one point and want to give back.

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Utah Food Bank preparing for federal government shutdown