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Utah Food Bank demand triples since April

FILE: Utah Food Bank volunteers social distancing while packing supplies. Photo: Utah Food Bank via Instagram

SOUTH SALT LAKE – The Utah Food Bank typically hands out 2 million pounds of food every month. Since April, demand has gone up and that number has tripled to 6 million pounds per month.  

Many people are using the food bank for the first time because either their hours were cut or they lost their jobs entirely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Utah Food Bank CEO Ginette Bott tells the Deseret News that many pantries across the state had to convert into drive-thru locations, which was a challenge.

“[That helped] keep people in their car and social distance and keep everyone safe. So not only were we dealing with a new element of audience, we were also dealing with a whole new set of operational strategies,” Bott said.

However, the change seems to be working. 

“We’re doing about 43 of these across the state every month at 43 different locations. Some are monthly, some are weekly depending on the need in the area,” Bott said. “But it does give us flexibility, that it allows us to serve those neighborhoods to the best of our ability and to meet the greatest of all their needs.” 

Bott also told the Deseret News that the supply chain issues Utah had earlier this year seem to be fixed. Their shelves are stocked. 

The next challenge will be the holidays, which are always a busy time of year for the food bank. 

“We know that December is going to be a tough month, but then you go into January, we’re starting off a new year and some of these people still aren’t re-employed, or they’re not re-employed at the level that they were at — and now it’s a continuation of their dilemma. So it has to be a continuation of our services at the level that we can provide,” Bott said.