DAVE & DUJANOVIC

Tabitha’s Way: Food pantry lending help to those in need

May 12, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: Jun 14, 2023, 12:40 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — In recent times, food pantries have become a necessity for many people. But what exactly is in a food pantry?

Al Switzler and Wendy Osborne, co-founders of Tabitha’s Way, joined Dave and Dujanovic on Thursday to provide a some insight into their food pantries.

Dave Noriega took a tour of the pantry, and came away impressed with what he saw.

“First of all, very similar to your grocery store,” he said. “There’s a little bit of everything. There’s the dairy section, the fresh produce section. You got canned goods, you got fresh breads, a much smaller scare, obviously.”

Where does a food pantry get its food?

Dujanovic opens the conversation with Switzler by asking, “Where does Tabitha’s Way get its food?”

“We get them from food drives,” he said. “The big food drives and we get local food drives from churches, states, organizations, businesses, individuals.”

Switzler also says their products are acquired through a grocery rescue.

“Grocery rescue is a program where local grocery stores give food that’s near expiration date,” he said.

Switzler says last year Tabitha’s Way provided 1.9 million pounds of food. He says 1.1. million pounds of that came from grocery stores. And another 500,000 pounds came from local food drives.

Tabitha’s Way has two locations – American Fork and Spanish Fork. According to Switzler, the American Fork location serves 10 cities in northern Utah County. The Spanish Fork location serves eight locations in southern Utah County. 

The downtimes

Noriega asked Osborne, “So do you just get this influx of food during these big food drives? And what happens in the downtimes?”

“What happens during those low times is our warehouses get very bare and it gets really difficult,” Osborne said. “And we reach out to churches and schools and businesses and ask them, ‘hey, can you help?’ and we try to coordinate and schedule food drives.”

Dujanovic asked, “Have you seen an increased interest from families here in this area for help?”

Switzler says all areas of the state have seen an increase in help. He says it’s nearly doubled in the last six months to where the pantry is helping roughly 8,000 people a month.

“So, we’re not just helping, if you will, the lower economic class,” he said. “It’s now moving up to the lower part of the middle class. And we have people that come, they’re embarrassed. They’ve never been here before.”

Switzler says 75% of their clients come eight or fewer times, roughly for four months.

Osborne says from 2021 to 2022, Tabitha’s Way saw an increase of 53% in the number of families seeking assistance.

Listen to the entire segment below.

 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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Tabitha’s Way: Food pantry lending help to those in need