Did you know that 1 in 7 Utah children don’t know where their next meal is coming from?
In May, we chose Utah Food Bank as one of our monthly Giving Back partners. We believe, like they do, that no one should face food insecurity. We were delighted to meet with Heidi Canelli, their Director of Communications, to learn more about their amazing organization.
AnswerForce donates 1% every month through the Giving Back program. Our customers have helped us donate over 1 Million Meals through over 150 food banks across the United States and Canada.
Utah Food Bank’s mission statement is ‘Fighting Huner Statewide’.
410,000 people in Utah are food insecure. That’s 13% of Utah’s population.
When the pandemic hit, the need for food almost tripled and it still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. Food banks, like this one, rely on continued generosity to continue fighting hunger each day. They take donations of food, time, and money to distribute food to those who need it most Last year they received 141,700 volunteer hours – the equivalent of 68 full-time employees.
Utah Food Bank is responsible for providing assistance in all 29 counties in Utah. Most food banks’ service areas stay within their state lines. However, Utah Food Bank crosses just over the border into San Juan. Arizona is incredibly remote and it’s closer for them to service this area than for their closest Arizonan food bank.
Currently, they have two distribution centers open, in Salt Lake City and St George, and they’re in the process of adding more warehouses and distribution centers to keep up with the need in Utah. To ensure that people get the help they need, Utah Food Bank is opening two food pantries that will also provide jobs to people in the area.
“Though the pandemic drove record-breaking need, it also drove record-breaking support, which has been great as it enables us to get ourselves set up to feed Utahns for generations to come in a more efficient manner.” – Heidi Cannella, Communications Director for Utah Food Bank.
Last year, they distributed 70.2 million pounds of food which is the equivalent of 58.5 million meals. They have 216 statewide partners in all 29 counties including emergency food pantries, schools, universities, rehabilitation facilities, soup kitchens, congregate feeding sites that help feed the homeless, youth and senior programs, and shelters. Utah Food Bank distributes the food free of charge to their partner agencies.
Part of their focus is on providing evening meals for children who would typically only be fed at school. So after-school feeding programs have been created to ensure children receive a hot meal after school. There are also holiday programs to assist when schools are out, as children in need lose access to school-provided meals.
Mobile pantries expanded massively during the pandemic, they set up trucks in parking lots and set up a drive-through process. Last year, their food trucks traveled 580,424 miles – that’s 23 times around the equator!
How can you help?
Utah Food Bank has three giving options:
- Give food – you can donate food yourself or you can host a food drive
- Give time – food banks wouldn’t be able to do what they do without the help of volunteers
- Give money – every $1 turns into $8.71 in goods & services for Utahns facing hunger