Food donations brighten holidays, but 'hunger knows no season'

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 11:00 a.m. MST

Fortunately, a number of community partners have stepped forward to contribute turkeys and fixings so needy people and families will have holiday meals. 

Earlier this week, volunteers from AAA Utah unloaded and sorted 136 turkeys to be delivered to various nonprofit organizations in Salt Lake City. The turkeys will be prepared into meals to serve Utah's hungry and shut-ins, allowing the needy to participate in and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Molina Healthcare has also contributed 200 turkeys to the Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake City and Adventure Church in Draper for its annual Thanksgiving dinner for families in need.

A major food drive is also under way in Utah County, pitting Brigham Young University against Utah Valley University. Previously, BYU and the University of Utah conducted a food drive in conjunction with rivalry week, but the drive was discontinued because the two schools are no longer in the same athletic conference.

While Utahns along the Wasatch Front may be familiar with the Utah Food Bank and area food pantries, the nonprofit serves rural Utah, too. Some communities are particularly challenging to serve because people lack easy access to pantries, let alone large grocery stores where their food budgets could stretch further.

Bott said the Utah Food Bank welcomes donations of food, money and people's time any time of year.

"Our biggest need is in June, July and August. People need to stretch that spirit of giving across the year," Bott said.

The Utah Food Bank, in its last fiscal year, distributed 33.3 million pounds of food and goods, the equivalent of more than 26 million meals for families and individuals in need.

The nonprofit agency also served 222,837 Kids Cafe meals, delivered 31,044 food boxes and filled 19,884 kids’ backpacks for weekends and school holidays.

Thanksgiving contributions have been steady, but "Christmas is just around the corner," Bott said.

The Utah Food Bank is also asking donors to focus on meeting critical needs, such as donations of peanut butter, canned tuna, salmon and stew, as well as canned fruits and vegetables. There is an ongoing need for infant formula, she said.

Meeting needs of the state depends on donations of people's time, food and money, Bott said. The latter is particularly important because the Utah Food Bank can leverage $8 in food and services for every dollar people contribute.

For more information about Utah Food Bank, visit www.utahfoodbank.org. The nonprofit is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UtahFoodBank and Twitter at www.twitter.com/UtahFoodBank.

Food report:

• Salt Lake City is home to eight farmers markets.

• The Utah Food Bank operates a “grocery rescue” program statewide. In fiscal year 2012, the program diverted more than 12 million pounds of food to families in need.

• In December 2011, there were 22,780 participants in the federal food stamp program in Salt Lake City.

• From 1997 to 2007, certified organic operations increased from three to 48.

• Food scraps make up more than 20 percent of residential waste in the Salt Lake landfill, estimated to be more than 10,000 tons of food.

Source: Community Food Assessment conducted by Salt Lake City Corp.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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