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Gearing Up for Utah Food Bank's Long Winter

PHOTO: A volunteer stocks shelves at one of the Utah Food Bank's partner food pantries around the state. Courtesy Utah Food Bank.
PHOTO: A volunteer stocks shelves at one of the Utah Food Bank's partner food pantries around the state. Courtesy Utah Food Bank.
September 3, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY - It can be hard to beat your own fund-raising record, but AARP Utah says it will try this month. The organization is asking its 211,000 members statewide to donate to the Utah Food Bank in September, and it will match the first $8,500 in donations. Last year, a similar fund drive raised a record $38,000. The total, after the match, exceeded $46,000.

Laura Polacheck, AARP Utah associate state director, said they would like to top that, as the need statewide is still great.

"One in five people have food insecurity, not knowing if they're going to skip a meal, which is pretty shocking to a lot of people in our state," said Polacheck. "The great thing about the Utah Food Bank is, it does have over a hundred partner organizations, so it helps food pantries around the state."

For the AARP Utah fundraiser, donations can be made online at www.utahfoodbank.org/aarp through September. According to Polacheck, fighting hunger is a priority of AARP nationwide.

While many believe the Utah economy is improving, Ginette Bott, chief marketing officer at the Utah Food Bank, said they continue to see high numbers of families at food pantry sites, where the shelves are looking a little bare. Summer is one of the peak times for food assistance, when children are not in school.

"We prepare for it; we have been able to meet the demand this summer," Bott said. "We're seeing a lot of families who are actually getting back to work - at least one, usually, adult in the family is working - but the jobs perhaps are paying a little less, and they still need some assistance."

The SNAP or food stamp amounts given to eligible low-income families will decrease nationwide in November, when federal funding added at the height of the recession expires. That is expected to put additional demands on food banks this winter.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - UT