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FILE - The Salt Lake County Health Department is encouraging good Samaritans to utilize existing social service agencies rather than conduct direct outreach on their own, especially when it comes to serving food to the homeless.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Health Department is encouraging good Samaritans to utilize existing social service agencies rather than conduct direct outreach on their own, especially when it comes to serving food to the homeless.

“It’s wonderful when people give back, especially this time of year,” Gary Edwards, the department’s executive director, said in a statement. “And we want to make sure that people’s charity is received by those in need in the best — and safest — way possible.”

“Providing assistance through these existing programs is the best way to give back to your community,” Edwards continued. “These organizations have a structure in place to utilize your time, goods and money in the safest and most efficient way possible.”

Homeless-assistance organizations available to receive volunteers and donations include:

• St. Vincent De Paul Dining Hall, 801-363-7710, ccsutah.org

• Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, 801-355-1302, rescuesaltlake.org

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• The Road Home, 801-359-4142, theroadhome.org

• Salt Lake City Mission, 801-355-6310, saltlakecitymission.org

For people still interested in providing their own independent food outreach, Utah state law requires them to register their outreach event with the local health department, at no cost, and receive food safety information.

To register a charitable food outreach event in Salt Lake County, call 385-468-3845. More information about food outreach to the homeless is available at SaltLakeHealth.org/food.