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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes it a great time to talk about the connection between food insecurity and poor mental health, something that we haven’t highlighted nearly enough in the past. Research shows that individuals reporting food insecurity are at an increased risk of mental illness. To make matters worse, this increased risk is magnified in high stress and socially isolated environments – which is exactly the scenario the pandemic has created for thousands of our neighbors.
 
Sarah, a young mother and food pantry client, shared how this environment has impacted her. “When the pandemic hit, I was seven months pregnant. My husband had a consulting company he was trying to start up. He was also in the reserves, so he made some money that way. We mostly used my college scholarships for our day-to-day needs. When school let out, and the consulting wasn’t providing enough, he started looking for a job. I was often home alone, and it became a constant question of what to make for dinner because I never really had quite enough. The fridge was always close to empty, and our pantry wasn’t much better. It’s humbling not to have enough food. After we brought our baby home, I remember feeling so much fear when breastfeeding didn’t start well because we did not have enough to buy formula. I felt like I was fighting so hard to feel like we were ok that I didn’t have any space left for joy. I just hated opening the fridge. A friend saw how much we were struggling and recommended the food bank, which has helped tremendously. But even now, with a full fridge, thinking about what to make for dinner causes anxiety.”
 
Sarah isn’t alone in facing increased mental health challenges due to food insecurity. Food insecurity, and the increased mental health risks it brings, are a persistent concern across Utah. 511,000 of our neighbors don’t always know where their next meal will come from. That makes food insecurity one of Utah’s leading health and nutrition issues. Going hungry doesn’t just hurt your stomach; it hurts every aspect of your life. In addition to the negative impact on physical health, food insecurity is associated with cognitive problems, behavioral problems, aggression, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
 
Mothers and children, in particular, are at high risk of experiencing traumatic effects on their mental health. Food-insecure mothers have more than two times higher rates of mental health issues than fully food-secure mothers. The odds of behavioral problems among children with food-insecure mothers are double those among children with food-secure mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that mothers with school-aged children who face severe hunger are 56% more likely to have PTSD and 53% more likely to have severe depression.
 
The domino effect of food insecurity on one’s mental health and family relationships wasn’t lost on Sarah, “The stress of not having enough food, what that did to me and my husband…I can’t really even put it into words. We felt so helpless and overwhelmed. My husband felt like it was his fault, and I felt like I couldn’t talk to him about it because I didn’t want him to feel bad, so there was this stress and rift in our relationship when we also had the stress of a newborn baby. We felt so alone. We’re still fighting to come back from that place.”
 
There is more to good mental health than having enough to eat – but when you can feed yourself and your loved ones, you are in a better place to cope with other mental health challenges. If you are struggling with food insecurity, please know that you don’t have to fight it alone. Utah Food Bank is here to help. Click here to find out about the resources available to you.
 
If you would like to join us in fighting hunger and making Utah a healthier, happier place, click here to donate now.

 


“My mommy doesn’t eat.”

 
When a little girl said those words at one of our recent Mobile Pantry distributions, every single mother knew what she meant: Her mom doesn’t eat because there’s not enough food. She misses meals day after day, just so her kids can have something to eat.

Right here in Utah, 511,000 of our neighbors don’t have enough to eat. The impact this has on their health, their development, and their future is staggering. And data consistently shows that women are especially vulnerable to food insecurity – and the health consequences that follow. For the past year, as the pandemic disrupted work and home life, many moms have been stretched thin — acting as caregivers, teachers, and earners at once.

The pandemic has touched everyone, but often mothers bear the brunt of it, with no space or time to recover. One in five Utah children is experiencing food insecurity right now, which is closely related to the loss of maternal income. Since the pandemic began, many working moms have struggled to balance their employment with the extra parenting responsibilities of kids in remote learning, so they have had to reduce their work hours or leave the workforce entirely. Many families already on the brink of financial crisis found themselves needing to turn to Utah Food Bank for food assistance when they could no longer make ends meet. Across the country, almost 1 million American mothers have left the workforce — with Black, Hispanic, and single mothers among the hardest hit.

As mothers in Utah try to recover from the effects of the pandemic, you can make an incredible difference. Every $10 you give helps distribute $80.30 worth of goods and services to families who are still struggling.
 
On Mother’s Day, we celebrate the women who have been a source of encouragement, love, and support in our lives. This Mother’s Day, you can be a source of encouragement, love, and support for the many mothers in Utah who are striving each day to build a brighter future for their families in the face of the overwhelming emotional and financial devastation caused by the pandemic.

We invite you to honor a special woman in your life this Mother’s Day with a donation that also lifts women struggling to feed their families and often go without to do so. Join us with a gift today and make all the difference.

Click on the link below, and you can make a gift in honor or memory of a special woman in your life. When you do, you’ll have the option to send a Mother’s Day ecard to let them know that a gift has been made in their honor.

Give now.

 


Approximately 600,000 tons of food are wasted every year in Utah, while 511,000 Utahns don’t always have enough to eat – which makes Earth Day the perfect time to talk about our Grocery Rescue program.

 
Did you know the United States leads the world in food waste, with Americans discarding nearly 80 billion pounds of food every year? In fact, food takes up more space than any other single item inside US landfills. All that waste has lasting environmental consequences.

 
Food that sits decaying in landfills produces nitrogen pollution, which causes algae blooms and dead zones. It also wastes the water and energy it took to produce it – $165 billion worth – and generates the equivalent greenhouse gases of 37 million cars! With the Grocery Rescue program, we take food that would otherwise contribute to this waste and destruction and distribute it to those in need.

 
The Grocery Rescue program is a partnership between Utah Food Bank and retailers across Utah that provides a safe and efficient donation outlet for food that is nearing its expiration date but is still safe, healthy, and wholesome to eat. Six days a week, Utah Food Bank and our partners send refrigerated trucks throughout the state and pick up unsalable food donations that would otherwise be thrown away. Instead, donations are collected and distributed within 24 hours to Utahns who need them most.

 
This program has become a highly successful means of addressing poverty, hunger, and food waste in Utah and continues to fill an essential nutrition gap for Utahns facing hunger while at the same time reducing the amount of wasted food. Last year, this program provided 16 million pounds of food for Utahns facing hunger. Fresh produce, dairy, and meats that would otherwise end up in landfills instead find their way to our neighbors facing food insecurity.

 
The Grocery Rescue program plays a crucial role in the fight against hunger and the fight to protect our planet. A heartfelt thanks to the 270 retailers across the state who make this program possible!

 

 

Learn more.


Registration is now open for our annual Driving Out Hunger golf tournament! After a year off, we are excited to get back to the greens on June 14th for this fun event, where you can step up to the tee to fill a plate! All funds raised from this scramble-format tournament will directly support Utah Food Bank programs, operations, outreach, and education efforts.

You can participate by forming a two-person or four-person team, become a Corporate Sponsor, or even opt for a “mulligan” by donating to Utah Food Bank without participating. There is only room for 35 foursomes at this event, and the registration deadline is June 11, so get your team together today and start practicing your swing!

 

Event Details:

7 am – 7:50 am: Check-in & Continental Breakfast
8 am: Shotgun Start
1 pm: Lunch & Awards Ceremony
Willow Creek Country Club
8505 Willow Creek Drive
Sandy, UT

*Social distancing safety protocols will be adhered to. Separate carts are available upon request during the registration process.

*Cost:

Four-Player Team Entry: $1,000
Two-Player Team Entry: $500

*Includes continental breakfast and lunch

REGISTER NOW!

 

 

Driving Out Hunger Sponsors


Great news! The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation is offering a $100,000 match for the month of March! It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the country shut down due to COVID-19. Over the past twelve months, the pandemic has pushed countless families into crisis, and the number of Utahns facing food insecurity has skyrocketed. Even before the pandemic, many of your neighbors in Utah were facing hunger.

Now, the need for food is just as great as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. The lines at Utah Food Bank’s partner agencies and Mobile Pantry distributions are even longer. Consistent employment is still uncertain. More families are struggling between paying their rent and utilities—or buying food.

Kathy and her husband have been struggling to get by on a single income ever since health concerns forced her out of work. “I’m doing everything I can to get back to the life we had,” Kathy said. “It’s a scary feeling not having enough to feed your kids.”

All across Utah, the demand for food remains high. Kathy and many other Utah families are counting on us for relief. We are serving 510,590 people this year—198,090 of whom are children—and we’re expecting thousands more still need help accessing enough food to feed their families.

It takes a lot of support to feed so many people, but with your help, we can do it.

Every $1 you give creates $8.03 worth of goods and services — and right now, that amount can be doubled! Your generosity can feed twice as many Utah families in desperate need of support! You can be the reason your neighbor goes to bed with a full stomach and the peace of mind that they aren’t struggling alone in the fight against hunger.

Give now to have your donation matched, up to a total of $100,000! Your gift must be sent no later than March 31st if it’s going to be doubled through this Matching Gift Challenge, thanks to the support of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.

Donate Now!

 

 

 


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