As president and CEO of Utah Food Bank, I have been in a unique position to see both the challenges of the past year and the countless individuals, organizations, companies, and community leaders who have banded together to help us meet those obstacles. Thanks to all of your support, we continue Fighting Hunger Statewide despite an overwhelming increase in need and the unexpected hurdles thrown our way by this pandemic.
The outpouring of support from the community has been incredible, and it means that we can continue to help the thousands of Utahns facing hunger who will struggle to get back on their feet for what we figure is a long time to come. The number of people who have stepped up to join us in meeting this crisis has been awe-inspiring and heartwarming, and it has brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.
2020 brought with it a pandemic that caused hunger on a scale we’ve never seen before at Utah Food Bank. Hardworking parents lost their jobs, and soon after, food budgets disappeared. Many of our neighbors had to seek assistance for the first time. The number of Utahns facing food insecurity skyrocketed to 511,000. The number of children unsure where their next meal would come from went from 1 in 7 to 1 in 5.
Along with the need for increased distribution came increased safety protocol at our warehouses to protect our staff and clients. That meant that for many months we had no warehouse volunteers. It meant asking most of our office staff to work from home. The logistics of doing more with less was a daily obstacle for our employees – especially our drivers and warehouse employees. Through this past year, I have witnessed an incredible display of dedication, loyalty, and commitment to our cause from Utah Food Bank staff. They have managed to keep up with demand despite these obstacles and while maintaining a positive attitude.
Hopefully, 2021 brings with it brighter days, but no matter what the future holds, 2020 has shown me that come what may, Utahns will be here for their neighbors, and we will be here for any Utahn struggling to feed themselves or their families. From all of us at Utah Food Bank, thank you! We couldn’t do what we do without you!