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

Utahns over 65 are a vulnerable population when it comes to the dangers of COVID-19, but many already faced the vulnerability of food insecurity. May is Older Americans Month, and while the month is nearly over, the unique difficulties that can come with aging are not. The number of food-insecure seniors will only expand as the senior population continues to grow.

 

Older Utahns are currently facing increased health and food access challenges due to the pandemic, and are more likely to develop nutrition-related health problems because of it. This is especially concerning considering the increased health, financial, and nutritional challenges that can occur with aging.

 

Living on a fixed income can be incredibly difficult and stressful. Many low-income seniors face spending tradeoffs – choosing between food and necessities, such as housing, utilities, health-related costs, and transportation – that can lead to or worsen food insecurity. It’s a vicious cycle, as food-insecure seniors are more likely to have chronic health conditions, and chronic health conditions can lead to greater food insecurity.

 

Utah Food Bank has two direct service programs focused on homebound seniors and people with disabilities, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and the UFB Food Box Program. Through these two programs, we distributed 46,212 food boxes to this vulnerable population last year. Since the COVID-19 crisis, we have implemented health and safety protocols to ensure the protection of our clients who receive these boxes, along with those delivering these food boxes.

 

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federally funded program that works to improve the health of seniors living in poverty who are at least 60 years of age. The USDA ships nutritious foods directly to Utah Food Bank, including canned fruits, vegetables, cereal, cheese, and more. CSFP offers a free monthly food box delivery containing 10 days’ worth of nutrient-rich foods specific to seniors to help them maintain a healthy diet. Recipients also receive nutrition education and delicious recipes specific to the supplied food, so they can maximize the number of meals they can make using the food they receive.  If you, or someone you know, are interested in participating in the CSFP program, you can find information here.

 

The UFB Food Box program is an expansion of CSFP and includes monthly food box deliveries to homebound seniors and people with disabilities. These boxes are delivered primarily by caring volunteers, who are sometimes the only visitors these clients receive.  If you are interested in volunteering to deliver food boxes to homebound seniors, please click here to learn more.

 


Since the Coronavirus pandemic started creating such drastic economic fallout, we have watched the need for food assistance significantly increase. Before the crisis began, 374,000 Utahns, and 1 in 7 Utah children, were unsure where their next meal would come from. Between business closings, lengthy school closings and a surge in unemployment filings, it is forecasted that the number of food-insecure Utahns will increase by an additional 165,000 individuals based on Feeding America’s Member Impact Analysis, which could cause the cost of providing food assistance to increase by an additional $6.5 million in the next 12-18 months.
 
“We are seeing a lot of first-time recipients, and it’s hard for them to get past their embarrassment, and their pride, to come to us,” said Ginette Bott, President & CEO. “We try to make it easy for them and ensure they know we are here to help, which we can only do thanks to the incredible support we are receiving from our community.”
 
Usually the summer months are critical for Utah Food Bank and our clients, with kids losing access to school meals while donations decline. This year is different, with the early school closings, and the community has stepped up to the plate to help. One such example is Fidelity Investments, which moved up the company’s summertime food drive from July to April so they could help now, when Utahns need it most.
 
Through creative ways of engaging their employees, Fidelity Investments offered fun activities for reaching fundraising goals, such as leaders shaving or “saving” their beards (one leader shaved his beard after raising $35,000), and even taking a pie in the face. Between these activities and generous employees, Fidelity Investments has reached the incredible milestone of giving $743,307 in one month – one of the largest single private donations Utah Food Bank has ever received, and which equates to 2.9 million meals for Utahns. Including this year’s donation, Fidelity Investments’ contributions over the last 27 years have yielded more than 1,600 volunteer hours, more than $3 million, and 1,818,561 pounds of food – the equivalent of over 13 million meals!
 
“We quickly pivoted to once again mobilize Fidelity Investments employees – even our newest colleagues as we’re hiring 200 people – to assist our fellow Utahns with some of their most basic needs during these unprecedented times,” said Mark Barlow, Fidelity Investments’ senior vice president and Utah regional leader. “This record-setting food drive and long-time support are part of our company’s commitment to increase our community efforts in this new environment by focusing on virtual volunteering and expanded giving opportunities. Our hope is that more businesses and individuals also will continue to contribute time and resources to Utahns during this critical period.”
 
The three things Utah Food Bank typically needs most are food, time, and money. While we aren’t accepting external volunteers at the moment, donations of food and money are crucial to help us remain flexible so we can continue to expand our distribution services. We expect to feel the effects of this economic fallout for months, if not years to come. With our ability to stretch each $1 donated into $7.66 worth of goods and services, every donation, both small and large, has an impact on the lives of Utahns facing hunger. Ongoing community support will be even more vital than ever as Utahns, and Utah businesses, struggle to recover from this. If you would like to donate, CLICK HERE.


Mobile Pantries have been a vital part of Fighting Hunger Statewide for a long time, with mobile pantries set up across the state that distribute food on a regular basis. They have historically provided support to Utahns living in areas that are classified as food deserts or are inaccessible or underserved by traditional food pantries. COVID-19 has proven just how essential they are as an effective and efficient tool in responding to the sharp increase in need due to school closings and job loss. We have already expanded distribution through this program, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.

One example of this expansion is the emergency food distribution we hosted on Friday, April 24th. This was the largest emergency food distribution we have done so far, serving more than 5,000 families, impacting a total of approximately 29,000 individuals!

This event was planned in a relatively short time and wouldn’t have been successful without the collaboration of many, including 192 amazing volunteers and staff, and an impressive list of groups including Maverik Center, Herc Rentals, Utah Barricade Company, Deseret Transportation, Hoj Innovations, Performance Trucking, C.R. England, Meadow Gold and Dairy West.

Ten trucks, 218 pallets of food, and 19 pallets of milk were distributed through 6 pick-up lanes, and results were awe-inspiring — check out the amazing drone footage below, captured by Loveland Innovations. But the statistics are only important when you consider the people behind those numbers. As Ginette Bott, Utah Food Bank president and CEO said of the event, “A lot of people coming today are first-time recipients. This is new for them — it’s hard to come, it’s a little bit embarrassing sometimes. We try to make it easy and safe, and try to make them recognize that people in the community are here to help.”

More than 126,000 Utahns have filed for unemployment in recent weeks. With many Utahns living paycheck to paycheck, the loss of work has hit hard.

“It’s going to help a lot. They cut down my husband’s hours at work,” Stacy Thompson, a recipient at the distribution, said. “Not one family is alone and struggling through this. We are all in this together,” she added.

Bringing food and hope to our fellow Utahns is the reason we do what we do. If you would like more information about our Mobile Pantry program, including a distribution calendar please CLICK HERE.

If you would like to help us in this endeavor, please consider a donation. Not only can we turn every dollar into $7.66 worth of goods and services, but financial donations will allow us to remain flexible so that we can offer additional distribution services, which will increase transportation costs.

 


It seems like everywhere you look there is an unprecedented amount of need due to the fallout from COVID-19. Job loss and school closings have led to a dramatic increase in food insecurity for many in the world, and that is certainly true here in Utah.

We are adding Mobile Pantries across the state, modifying the way we distribute, and taking all precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our clients and volunteers. We have seen a 161% increase over last year of the number of households we serve. For many of these distributions, that means lines of cars stretching as far as you can see. At one particularly busy site we are now serving upwards of 800 families each week.

In March, we distributed 19,000 meals to children missing meals due to school closures. In one week in April, we distributed 12,000 meals in Salt Lake School District alone, and we estimate we will distribute 40,000 in May to that district’s students, with plans to expand even further.

The other side of that coin has been an unprecedented outpouring of support, in the form of food, time, and money.

With the closing of restaurants and hospitality industries, has brought with it an influx of generosity both from restaurants with too much product on-hand and suppliers such as Sysco Intermountain. Truckloads of commercial food like GoGo Squeez, Tranont, Hearthside Foods and more are streaming into our warehouse. The amount of fresh produce and meat products we are receiving is also astounding, from new donors such as DOT Foods, and long-time donors such as Walmart, Granite School District and Pitman Farms.  We cannot even name all the incredible donations of product we are seeing because it’s coming in so rapidly!

While we did have to shut down to external volunteers in early April, the show of support we received when we put out the call for help was remarkable, and we cannot wait until we can see all of your faces again.

The outpouring of financial support has literally knocked our socks off, between the community, foundations, corporate partners and more…we cannot thank all of you enough for your generosity!

The fight is far from over. The impact from coronavirus will be felt for a long time. But with your ongoing support we will be here, fighting hunger statewide, as long as there is a need. We are grateful for all those who fight along with us, for everyone who has asked “how can we help?” We truly couldn’t do it without you!

 


Your gift to Utah Food Bank can go twice as far! 

COVID-19 is causing economic fallout across the world and the state. With so many out of work due to closures, food insecurity is increasing exponentially, even amongst Utahns who have never needed our help before.  We’ve almost doubled the number of clients we serve at Mobile Pantries, have seen a significant increase in the amount of food we are distributing, and are distributing an average of 10,000 meals weekly for kids who are out of school.

Now, thanks to a matching grant made possible by an anonymous friend of Utah Food Bank, donations made using the link below will be doubled up to $100,000!
 
Every gift to help us support families struggling with hunger will be DOUBLED.

 

With your doubled gift, we can provide food for twice as many people who are struggling to make ends meet with job loss and children missing school meals. 374,000 Utahns don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 1 in 7 children might go to bed hungry tonight. Those statistics are from before the pandemic. In these uncertain times, there are many more facing hunger. But you can be certain that your matched donation will help us meet the growing need and continue fighting hunger statewide.

Please donate today.

 

 

 


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