UTAH

Inflation hitting Utah Food Bank patrons and donors

Dec 14, 2022, 10:00 AM | Updated: 11:28 am
two people are pictured volunteering at the utah food bank...
Melanie Jones, left, Erik Biesemeier and Juraj Plavcan volunteer at the Utah Food Bank in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Ben B. Braun/Deseret News)
(Ben B. Braun/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — More people are in need of the Utah Food Bank this time of year. At the same time, food and monetary donations are taking a hit because of rising living costs.

Changes in needs

The Utah Food Bank said inflation may be the reason it’s starting to see an increased need for help this year.

Though the holiday season usually sees an increased demand for the Utah Food Bank, Utah Food Bank CEO Ginette Bott said this year is different.

“We’re seeing people coming to pantries for help that we’ve never seen before. These are people who have good jobs, are working, but the pricing of everything that is so inflated is starting to catch up.” And, Bott said, “I think people are starting to run out of their savings account or their reserves. So it’s kind of creating a situation that some families have never had to experience before.”

Donation changes

Food donations are also looking different this year.

“Around the holidays, people will tend to try to buy items that they think would make a holiday meal,” which Bott said usually comes in the form of things like boxed potatoes, boxed stuffing and canned yams.

But this year, she said, “We’re seeing things more like canned soups, we’re seeing Hamburger Helper, we’re seeing things that makes us think people are actually going to their pantries again with not so much a specific shopping list but, ‘what is it that we can share?”

She said that signals that people may be digging in their pantries to give instead of buying more.

“I’m guessing people might be going to their pantry at home and selecting some products that they already might have to share, versus going to a store and buying something new.”

Inflation also seems to be impacting monetary donations.

“Financial donations are still coming in but they’re smaller. Which tells me the donor is having less of a discretionary income opportunity to give from.”

Utah Food Bank still here to help

Despite the strain, Bott said that donations and volunteering still make a difference.

“We know we’re never going to end hunger. We can’t end hunger, it just won’t. But we can do our best to facilitate those who are food insecure.”

And if you are someone dealing with food insecurity, Bott encouraged you to reach out for help.

You can call 211 for help finding your local pantry. The Utah Food Bank website also has a map of pantries available in the state.

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Inflation hitting Utah Food Bank patrons and donors