Community Action's Food Bank, which serves communities throughout Utah Valley, has completely run out of dry goods.

The Food Bank, a program funded in part by United Way of Utah County, normally has a supply of these items sufficient for three months.Donations of items such as macaroni and cheese, noodles, cereal and pasta, as well as gelatin, pudding, cake and other prepackaged dinner mixes, are needed immediately. The Food Bank also provides paper products to the families it helps, and these items are also needed.

Recent Food Bank drives brought in large amounts of canned food, but dry goods have not been as plentiful. Local organizations such as churches, businesses, neighborhoods, service or social clubs, families and individuals are encouraged to continue regular food drives or develop new drives with a specific focus on dry goods.

The shortage is due to an increase in the number of families assisted by the Food Bank.

"An increase in the number of families needing assistance has put a strain on the Food Bank," said Myla Dutton, director of Community Action. "Not only are we helping more families, we are also assisting families for longer time periods, allowing them to meet other financial obligations and avoid homelessness."

Usually the families that are helped have experienced emergencies in their lives that have caused a shortage in funds. Many have financial problems caused by job loss, illness or unexpected large expenses. To deal with the hardship, the families request help from Community Action. Dutton said that these crises often take several weeks to overcome, so the families are helped for as long as needed.

"Many of these families struggle with making ends meet, with high housing costs," Dutton said. Some families are "a paycheck or two away from losing their housing."

Most of the families being helped under the Community Action program are renting their housing. However, for those who are buying homes, mortgage counseling is given. According to Dutton, the housing costs in Utah Valley are not in proportion with the wages earned, which adds to the families' difficulties.

Donations can be dropped off directly at the Food Bank, weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., at 1122 S. 900 East in Provo. Questions may be directed to Community Action at 373-8200 or the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108.