Despite an organization-wide desire to distribute the most appropriate foods possible to every community in need, Utah Food Bank currently does not have a formal process to identify, track, and distribute culturally appropriate foods to the most suitable food pantries and mobile pantries on a statewide scale. Thanks to a recent grant of $100,000 from KeyBank, we are implementing a multi-phased pilot project in Salt Lake County to help identify and address the needs of our rich multicultural population.
Between 1990 and 2020, the number of residents in Salt Lake County increased by 63.3%. During that same time, the number of minority residents increased by 380%, and the number of Hispanic/Latino residents increased by 432%. Salt Lake City is one of 19 U.S. areas identified by the State Department as “welcoming communities” for refugees. Approximately 60,000 refugees represent countries including Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Vietnam, Russia, and Myanmar. Salt Lake City schools report over 100 languages spoken.
The KeyBank grant will aid and enhance the Utah Food Bank’s efforts in establishing a delivery baseline for the top 15 culturally responsive foods and creating workflows for inventory and warehousing departments to identify, communicate and prioritize agency needs. The new program will also include survey tools to better assess and record product preferences for partner agencies.
Culturally responsive foods consist of various items considered the most popular among diverse cultural groups. These foods include flour, beef, green cabbage, carrots, chicken, cucumbers, fresh eggs, garlic, lime, cow milk, onions, pasta, bell and sweet peppers, white sugar and tomato. The emphasis is on avoiding pre-seasoned and pre-packaged meats and pasta while providing whole foods.
“Utah Food Bank is grateful to KeyBank for supporting this important initiative that will help us respond accordingly to Utah’s changing demographics,” according to Ginette Bott, Utah Food Bank President & CEO. “Piloting this program in Salt Lake County will allow us to learn from and refine the distribution of more culturally responsive foods so that as we expand our footprint in Utah in the near future, we can implement similar models statewide.”