2 Salt Lake County food pantries shuttered

Federal sequestration blamed for closure of Murray center

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 6:05 p.m. MDT

MURRAY — Two food pantries in Salt Lake County have been closed in recent weeks with one closure being blamed on the federal sequestration.

In an email to community partners, Salt Lake Community Action Program neighborhood pantry manager Mary Richardson wrote that the nonprofit decided to close its Neighborhood Food Center in Murray "as a result of federal sequestration."

"We are saddened by our loss of this important community resource, which serves 1,100 grocery orders and provides countless referral information to families in the Murray area each month," Richardson said.

She did not return phone calls for comment Friday.

The agency, she wrote, is "comforted by the availability of other resources, such as the Utah Food Bank’s mobile pantries in South Salt Lake and Murray, and the potential expansion of an existing pantry in Murray."

An employee who ran the program will work elsewhere in the nonprofit, the email said.

The closure of that pantry comes about two weeks after Catholic Community Services closed its food pantry at its St. Vincent de Paul Center campus. The decision was likewise financial, but had nothing to do with cuts in federal spending, said development director Jose Lazaro. The pantry was closed Feb. 28.

"It (the food pantry) was something we couldn't sustain without jeopardizing other programs," he said.

CCS is attempting to deal with rapidly increasing numbers of people seeking lunch and dinner at its dining hall, he said. The nonprofit provides lunch to 800 to 1,000 people a day, and serves 600 to 700 meals for dinner. 

"Of course we never want to shut down a program. But we can't put one of our larger programs at jeopardy, such as the meal service. We are the only service provider in Salt Lake City that offers that noon and evening meal service," he said.

CCS's Hall Food Bank in Ogden, the largest food bank in northern Utah, was not affected by the decision, Lazaro said.  

Both Richardson and Lazaro said they believe other food pantries will be able to absorb their clients affected by the change.

E-mail: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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