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Holiday Rush to Fill Utah's Food-Bank Shelves

Food collected during the holidays is critical for keeping pantry shelves stocked for families facing hunger through the winter months ahead. (Pixabay)
Food collected during the holidays is critical for keeping pantry shelves stocked for families facing hunger through the winter months ahead. (Pixabay)
December 8, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Food Bank is in the middle of its Holiday Food and Fund Drive, and the need for donations goes beyond helping struggling Utahns prepare for that next big family gathering.

Ginette Bott, chief development officer with the food bank, said the holiday season is a great time to capture Utah's giving spirit, and food collected now is critical for keeping shelves stocked for families facing hunger through the winter months ahead. She's asking people from all corners of the state to consider giving food, time or money.

"You can do a virtual food drive online and pick the product you want us to buy with your funds because we have such great buying power,” Bott said. "Or you can do neighborhood projects, of food drives in your neighborhood or your businesses."

She pointed to AARP Utah as one example of how organizations can get involved. The group asked its members to match an original donation of $8,000, and an additional $18,000 in donations poured in from across the state - the equivalent of more than 69,000 meals.

AARP staff also make monthly food box deliveries to seniors, and the group organizes volunteers for programs such as the Kids Cafe.

One in five Utah children is at risk of missing a meal on any given day. Bott said the program helps fill the gap by distributing 1,800 meals a day to children at more than 42 after-school sites.

"A lot of kids qualify for breakfast and lunch through the reduced program with the schools, but there's no dinner component for children,” Bott said. "A lot of parents are working two and three jobs and are out of the home in the evening and a child won't eat until school the next day."

Nonperishable donations can be dropped off at Smith's or Harmons locations statewide. You can also drop food off at the food bank's Salt Lake City warehouse or your nearest pantry.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT