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Stay up to date on all the exciting happenings at the Utah Food Bank.

For so many kids, summer means pools, sprinklers, and fun. But for a surprising number of Utah children–142,320 of them, in fact–summer means worrying about where their next meal will come from. When school is out, children lose access to school meal programs, and families must find a way to provide additional meals on already-tight budgets. The summer months are a long time to go for our most vulnerable, chronically hungry students who may have little to nothing to eat at home. Parents will skip meals, and children will go without all the healthy food they need to grow into healthy adults that will serve them well later in life. The USDA considers food insecurity to be a lack of food at any given time and multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. It’s not just about being hungry – it’s about not being sure if you’ll have access to your next meal.

To address this, Utah Food Bank and partners throughout the state are offering free meals through the Summer Food Service Program. The program will extend Utah Food Bank’s Kids Cafe program by providing free meals to children 18 and younger through various sites such as parks and community centers for “Open Sites” and “Enrolled Programs.” Meals must be eaten in person, and no registration is required.

As a parent at one of our free summer meals sites explained, “Groceries are expensive. It’s harder to afford healthy things; we’re just buying less and trying to find the things on sale. If it’s not on sale, we don’t get it.”

Utah Food Bank is offering these meals at more than 50 locations this summer, with plans to serve more than 146,000 meals at sites in Salt Lake, Utah, Washington, Weber, Davis, Iron, San Juan, and Grand counties. Depending on the site, meals may be breakfast, lunch, or supper.  Many sites are offering meals daily throughout the week! For a complete schedule and list of our Summer Food Service Program locations, visit UtahFoodBank.org/SummerMeals.

You can also text “FOOD” to 304-304 for additional resources offered by other partners. This free texting service will prompt you to enter your address or zip code to receive the location and service times of up to three nearby summer meal sites. Meals will be offered from May 30 through August 21, but exact dates vary by site. All sites will be closed for Juneteenth (6/19), Independence Day (7/4), and Pioneer Day (7/24).

There are many opportunities to join in the fight against hunger statewide. Your gift of food, time, or money is desperately needed to meet the high demand for food in Utah this summer. To give now, click here.


Hunger could happen to any of us. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it is important to think about the important role food plays in not only our physical health but our mental health as well.

In Utah, 289,000 of our neighbors don’t always know where their next meal will come from. 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.

Numbers and data represent only a fraction of our awareness. The need for humanity and compassion can best be felt through these powerful words of a former client:

“Food insecurity is lying awake and gratefully watching 11:59 become tomorrow because you know that tomorrow is one day closer to payday and groceries, and it’s remaining sleepless because you’re still not sure how you’ll pay for both groceries and bills.

I have felt my place in the world come into sharp focus in the form of an empty fridge. I have second-guessed life decisions while examining the goopy lid of a half-empty ketchup bottle. I have regretted little routine decisions as I exhumed the remains of a moldy tub of leftover take-out rice. During a few brief periods of my adult life, I have felt the weight of my inability to fill one of the most basic and essential duties of motherhood. No failure has ever struck so deep.”

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 you don’t have to fight it alone. Utah Food Bank is here to help. Click here to learn about the resources available to you, or call 2-1-1 for services in your area.

If you would like to join us in fighting hunger and making Utah a healthier, happier place, click here to donate now.


Letter carriers and hunger have one thing in common: neither is impacted by the season. With 1 in 9 Utah children facing the pain and stress of hunger — and 289,000 Utahns at risk of missing a meal today – the statewide Stamp Out Hunger® food drive is as critical as ever. Our partner agencies are reporting an increase in pantry visitors since the beginning of this year, likely due to the expiration of additional SNAP benefits that were in place during the pandemic.

This food drive is a national effort on Saturday, May 13th. It provides Utah residents an easy way to donate to food-insecure friends and neighbors who are being pushed to the limit by rising food, gas, and housing costs. Participation is easy; leave your bag next to your mailbox before 9:00 a.m.

Now in its 31st year, the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive helps stock the shelves of emergency food pantries statewide at a crucial time of increased demand as school gets out and many children lack access to school meal programs, putting additional strain on already tight budgets.

Letter carriers will dispatch on Saturday to collect bags of food donations left on people’s doorsteps statewide. Those donations are then brought to their post office, where Utah Food Book staff and volunteers will be stationed to help receive donations.

Participation is Easy!

Look for a blue reminder bag in your mailbox this week. Fill the bag or box with non-perishable food items. Our most critical needs currently are canned meats, peanut butter, boxed meals, and canned fruits and vegetables—no glass items, please.

Place your food donation next to your mailbox for pick up on Saturday, May 13th, by 9:00 a.m. by your local letter carrier. Collected bags will then be delivered to Utah Food Bank and its statewide network of 230 partner food pantries statewide. All donations will be distributed to food pantries in your local area.

You can also take your food to Utah Food Bank’s warehousesHarmons, or if your food is not picked up, place it back outside your door on the Monday following the event.

If you prefer to support the effort financially, visit utahfoodbank.org for further information. We can stretch each $1 donated into $9.04 worth of goods and services for Utahns facing hunger, so every donation makes a difference!

 

 

We are still in need of volunteers! We need help at various post offices across the Salt Lake Valley to unload & pre-sort food. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old and capable of moderate lifting. For more details and to sign-up contact: [email protected]

 

The annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive is sponsored nationally by the National Association of Letter Carriers in conjunction with the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the United States Postal Service. In Utah and nationwide, this food drive has resulted in millions of meals for people facing hunger.


Friends and supporters of Utah Food Bank gathered for our annual gala Night at the Warehouse: Making Hunger Disappear. It was a fun evening of live and silent auctions, magical entertainment, and a wonderful dinner, all from where the real magic happens: our new West-Wing warehouse.

This year marked the 14th year of gala planning and the 12th anniversary of gala fun.  We started in 2010 with the intent to bring people to the warehouse with the opportunity to see what we do and learn who we are. Though the theme has changed annually, the goal of celebrating Utah Food Bank continues.

2023 Night at the Warehouse Gala included many beloved favorites, such as the Restaurant Board, a silent auction (including one-of-a-kind designs), a live auction (with a classic car experience), and opportunity drawings for a cruise, plane tickets and St. George resort stay. We had some unique additions this year, such as a special balloon wall and an elaborate ice sculpture. Attendees were delighted with some surprises, including a special performance from magician Jason Fun, who shared his journey of food insecurity with the audience.

Utah Food Bank also wishes to recognize our generous 2023 gala sponsors:

Presenting: Delta Air Lines

Gold: NU Packaging, Sysco, and Hopkins Brewing Company

Silver: C.R. England/England Logistics, Smith’s, Wells Fargo, Harmons, O.C. Tanner Company, and Colliers

Bronze: Cameron Construction, Dancing Moose Montessori, EY, Love Communications, Nicholas and Company, Big-D Construction and Zions Bank

The evening also included a Live Appeal, where attendees raised their paddles to help us fund the final half of a Mobile School Pantry truck. This crucial truck will help us serve the children of Utah County and Central Utah from our Timpanogos Distribution Center.

Many changes are on the horizon as the geographic size of our state has posed challenges to Utah Food Bank’s work of Fighting Hunger Statewide.  As we expand our footprint, we do so with the intention of making a difference today but also improving the method of emergency food distribution for generations to come.

The expansion comes with added costs and logistics, so we thank our generous supporters for all they have done and will do in the future.

 

 


Spring Break is supposed to be a time for relaxation, family vacations, and not worrying about anything school related. For Utah children who depend on school lunches, spring break presents a time of greater food insecurity.  When children lose access to school meal programs during spring break, families must find a way to provide additional meals on already-tight budgets. Ten days is a long time to go without typically scheduled meals, especially for the most vulnerable, chronically hungry students who may have little to nothing to eat at home.

Children facing hunger are more likely to be hospitalized and suffer physical, emotional, and developmental impairments. All of this makes education—a central means of obtaining financial security—far more complex. The long-term effects are exceptionally costly; adults who experience hunger as children are less well-prepared mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially to perform in today’s workforce and educational environments. And then, the cycle repeats itself.

Megan Sandel is a pediatrician focusing on treating malnutrition issues in kids. She sees a lot of heartbroken parents in her office.

“They’re working sometimes two jobs,” she said. “They have this, you know, a young child that’s not growing the way you would expect on the growth curve. And the mom will break down in tears and say, ‘I just got my rent bill; the landlord is increasing it; I can’t keep up. And now I know that there’s going to be one less tool in the toolbox to try and help this kid grow and get back on the growth curve.'”

When growth curves suffer, so does the learning curve.

Utah Food Bank’s Childhood Hunger Programs

Utah Food Bank’s Mobile School Pantry program complements both school meal programs and our other childhood hunger programs. It provides a cost-effective food distribution point for children and their families at the end of the school day in a safe and trusted environment—the school playground.

Each month during the school year, our truck arrives on the school property, where Utah Food Bank staff and volunteers assist students and their parents as they sign in and receive food. The amount of food distributed varies depending on the availability of donated and purchased foods, but we attempt to provide as many healthy items as possible. The impact of this program has been astounding—last year, through distribution at 67 school sites, we reached 284,181 individuals, 156,193 of whom were children.

Utah Food Bank’s Kids Cafe is offered in partnership with educational after-school sites at local elementary schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and community centers. The objectives of the program are twofold: first, to ensure that the children most vulnerable to hunger receive an evening meal, and second, to provide balanced nutrition in each meal served.

Last year, our Kids Cafe Program provided 477,703 meals to children at risk of hunger at 108 sites where at least 50% of the children qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. Participating sites offer not only a way to satiate hunger but also a safe place where children can participate in educational, recreational, and social activities under the supervision of trustworthy staff.

Where to get help

It’s hard to tell what’s more nourishing: a hot, nutritious meal or the knowledge that somebody cares. Utah Food Bank offers several programs to fill stomachs.

If you or someone you know is facing food insecurity, Call 2-1-1 Information and Referral to learn about resources in your local community that can help meet your needs, or click here to get help.

How to help

We can do multiple things to ensure that childhood hunger is minimal. We must do our part to keep the shelves at our local food banks and pantries stocked. Hosting a food drive or a  fundraiser is a great way to support Utahns facing hunger.

Hunger doesn’t take a break, and neither can we. Don’t wait; take action today.


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