In a significant stride towards addressing the critical issue of food insecurity in San Juan County and the Navajo Nation, Utah Food Bank proudly announces the official opening of our new Southeastern Distribution Center in Blanding. Spanning an impressive 18,000 square feet, this facility stands as a testament to our commitment to meeting the unique needs of this region. While we have been actively serving San Juan County and the Navajo Nation for over three decades, the necessity for a more robust approach became evident – dispatching a lone truck on a weekly basis to remote areas was not keeping up with the amount of need in the area.
San Juan County residents face significantly higher rates of hunger compared to the state average, with a staggering 17% reporting food insecurity, in stark contrast to the statewide figure of 10%. Sadly, childhood hunger is even more prevalent, with 20% of children uncertain about their next meal – a figure that is double the statewide average. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, we took a proactive stance, leading to the establishment of this new facility and infrastructure to serve the area for generations to come.
Utah Food Bank’s Southeastern Distribution Center in Blanding is a comprehensive facility, comprising an 18,000-square-foot distribution center with an attached 1,800-square-foot pantry. Additionally, the facility is equipped with refrigerator and freezer space, a critical addition aimed at increasing the availability of fresh food in the area. This facility not only serves existing partner agencies in the region but also acts as a support base for two new Utah Food Bank pantries scheduled to open in March in Monument Valley and Montezuma Creek.
One of the significant barriers to food security in the Navajo Nation has been the long driving distances to essential food outlets. Classified as a food desert, residents often travel for several hours to access basic resources. With the opening of these three pantries, we will strategically address this challenge by ensuring consistent access to food resources and reducing the burden of travel for local communities.
Utah Food Bank Southeastern Distribution Center is poised to become a community hub by generating jobs for the area and offering volunteer opportunities. This facility aims to foster a sense of shared responsibility and collaboration among residents, which will not only strengthen community bonds but also empower individuals to actively contribute to the well-being of their neighbors.
This new construction represents more than just a facility; it is a beacon of hope for the communities it serves. By addressing the unique challenges faced by San Juan County and the Navajo Nation, this multi-pronged expansion is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of those grappling with food insecurity. As it opens its doors, Utah Food Bank Southeastern Distribution Center is providing nourishment and sowing the seeds of positive change in the heart of the region where Utah’s indigenous communities call home.