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Inflation Brings Higher Demand, Fewer Supplies for Utah Food Pantries


Tuesday, September 6, 2022   

During the pandemic, food pantries were a lifeline for thousands of Utah families experiencing hard times. Rising inflation, however, is making it increasingly difficult for those agencies to meet people's needs.

Over the 12 months ending in June, the cost of food jumped more than 10% - second only to the cost of gasoline and utilities.

September is Hunger Action Month, and Gina Cornia - executive director of Utahns Against Hunger - said it comes at a time when the post-COVID economy is posing significant challenges for hunger-relief charities.

"Part of the complication is they're seeing larger families, and so they are distributing more food, but monetary donations are also down," said Cornia. "So, pantries are having to make some tough choices on how they serve those families."

Cornia said in Utah, more than 360,000 people report periods of food insecurity but only receive an average of $3.85 per day in food stamps. She said UAH works to shape public policy by educating elected officials on how to make nutrition programs work for the people who need them.

Cornia said the rising cost of food coupled with dwindling financial donations makes it hard for many pantries to survive.

"Pantries really are feeling pinched on all sides," said Cornia. "How do they maintain the level of service that the community needs and also keep their doors open?"

While Utahns Against Hunger does not directly distribute food, Cornia said its mission is to increase access to food through advocacy with policymakers, promoting food assistance and educating the public about the need to help their neighbors.

"These are organizations that every day are serving the needs of people who don't have enough money to buy food," said Cornia. "And we need a commitment from state legislators and from the governor to fund emergency food pantries at a level that they need."

For more information, go to UAH.org.

Disclosure: Utahns Against Hunger contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Livable Wages/Working Families, Poverty Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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