Food Pantries Struggle to Meet Need for Food in Bad Economy
by Cori Redstone
Salt Lake Community Action Food Pantry employee Lisa Bedard sits in her Magna office and shakes her head. It is the day before the 4th of July extended weekend. A food truck came in today but her pantry shelves are still bare. The Utah Food Bank is struggling to keep up with the high demand for food and they have not been able to bring boxed or canned food this week.
“This means many of our families are going without and we won’t be open until after the holiday weekend,” Lisa says. All one has to do is look at the shelves. They are bare with the exception of a few cans. Because of the fourth of July holiday the pantry will not be open again until the 6th and they likely won’t get a delivery of goods until the 7th.
Four families consisting only of mothers and children are lined up in the Food Pantry’s waiting room. They each leave with a pile of stale bread, a small amount of meat and some soft drinks and juice. There is a little cereal. A few lucky people will get a couple of cans or a jar of peanut butter. Everyone looks happy to be receiving food. Times have been especially tough and the food pantries have seen their number of clients double and triple in the last year. More mothers with children are arriving as I pull out of the parking lot.
Small local businesses have stepped in to help where they can. Sometimes the Magna Pizza Hut brings over ordered pizzas that weren’t picked up. It is a rare and welcome treat for anyone visiting the food pantry. Kiwi bakery often donates bags of pastries and breads. Lisa smiles as she hands four delicate cream filled pastries to a wide-eyed mother. The mom quietly smiles and tucks the pastries into a box before taking the hand of her toddler. Her five year old strains to see what mom has.
“When we are out of food we are so grateful these local businesses step in. We run out of food a lot. Private donors come with a bag of groceries or a couple of cans. Every small amount helps, especially around the holidays. A couple of bags can make a difference between a child going to bed hungry or having a small meal to eat.” Lisa- Magna food pantry coordinator.
Each emergency food pantry is facing the same shortages today. These families will have a lot of bread to eat over the holiday weekend but not much more.
Salt Lake Community Action Program runs five pantries in the Salt Lake Valley. The Magna Food Pantry employs three full time workers and 2 part time workers. Three of them are single mothers who utilize the services of the food pantry to keep their children fed.
Tuesday, July 6 is Twitter for Food day. People across the country are skipping a meal and donating the cost of the meal to a local food pantry, food bank or homeless shelter. You can donate food directly to any of Salt Lake CAP’s food pantries. You can find a list of Emergency Pantry locations at www.slcap.org.
The Utah food bank is always looking for donations and does their best to make sure the shelves of local pantries are stocked, but they still need your help
. Look for donation centers at Harmon’s Grocery Stores across Utah. You can also donate food online www.UtahFoodBank.org