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The Utah Food Bank and National Guard reach out to veterans

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 6:35 p.m. MDT

Veteran Robert Morrill and his wife Kaye pick up food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Veteran Robert Morrill and his wife Kaye pick up food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Volunteers provided food donations to about 25 veterans Tuesday during the Utah Food Bank's first-time effort to specifically serve veterans in need.

Ginette Bott, the Utah Food Bank chief marketing officer, said Utah Food Bank members noticed an influx of veterans in need of help and sought to help stabilize their living situations.

“We are very touched as an organization around Memorial Day, as we sometimes forget to think about and to thank the military, those who have served and those who are currently serving,” Bott said. “I think we take so for granted our freedom. We forget to say thank you."

Bott said Utah Food Bank members have been planning to serve veterans and their families for about a year at the Valor House, a housing facility created to help veterans who become homeless.

Veteran Darrel Stage picks up food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Veteran Darrel Stage picks up food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Volunteers Tuesday parked the Utah Food Bank's mobile pantry in front of the Valor House and hoped the food would help.

“When you start a new area, you never are sure whether it’s going to be feast or famine. Either everybody’s going to come or no one’s going to come,” Bott said. “So, we were hopeful if we could get between 25 or 40. That would be a huge success, so we’re pleased with the number.”

In addition to the Valor House, food donations were also made available to those staying in the Fisher House, a housing facility for the families of veterans receiving care from the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Bott said the food bank provided the veterans groceries to last between seven and nine days with plans to continue assisting the veterans and their families once a month throughout the year. Bott said she expects the service of the veterans to be an ongoing project.

Veteran Darrel Stage picks up food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Veteran Darrel Stage picks up food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Adam Quinn, a Utah National Guard member who distributed food Tuesday, said participating was not only meaningful to him because of the connection he felt with the veterans, but also because of his own personal experiences with difficult times.

“As a kid, I grew up kind of poor, and I remember I stayed in a shelter for a couple months. So, I remember this from a very different perspective,” Quinn said.

“I thought it was very nice to come out here and kind of give back a little bit. In general, I support the veteran community, of course, but I think just helping anyone in need is an important thing to do. That's what we do as guard members. We support the community.”

Jim Friesen, one of the veterans who lined up to accept a food donation, said he appreciates the opportunity to collect enough food to have a complete diet.

Veteran Robert Morrill talks with volunteers after picking out food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Veteran Robert Morrill talks with volunteers after picking out food as the Utah Food Bank hosts its newest mobile pantry site at The Valor House in Salt Lake City Tuesday, May 21, 2013. 72 veterans who are either homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless are able to utilize the services on a monthly basis. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"I think they should come two times a month instead of one," he said, grateful to receive the help.

Bott said the Utah Food Bank funds its services with the help of donations, which can either be given in the form of food, time or money. Donations can be made at www.utahfoodbank.org.

Katie McKellar is a KSL/Deseret News intern currently attending Dixie State University for a degree in mass communication. Contact her at kt.mckellar@gmail.com

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