The shelf is running low at Central Utah Food Sharing.
Typically, food banks are able to organize food drives to refill food cabinets in an effort to contain hunger for Millard County residents.
Food insecurity is estimated to affect 50 million Americans, 17 million of whom are children, according to FeedingAmerica.org. In Millard County, the rate of food insecurity is around 12 percent. In 2020, food banks have taken a hit with COVID-19.
“This year has been completely different,” said Bonnie Bendixen, secretary of CUFS. “We haven’t been able to have a food drive yet, so we’re very dependent on donating money, but people are very good at carrying food bags here and there.”
The reduction in food is also part of the additional donation time. Usually, food banks only distribute food every two months; this year clients are served every month. Regular donations from long-term donors and assistance from other organizations are the lifeblood of food banks during a pandemic.
“We have asked Utah Farmers to Feed Utah donate corn. I don’t even remember how many pounds we gave to anyone and everyone, but we still have loyal givers, “said Bendixen. “That’s what really helps us go to the grocery store and buy what we have.”
In an effort to replace food drives, the Utah State University Extension’s Create Better Health program is holding an advent calendar-style drive. From December 1, certain foods can be packed in boxes through December 24 and then donated to both food bank locations. Each day has a specified item; However, if the participant is unable to provide a specific meal, an alternative is accepted.
“This is basically the stuff we’ve given you,” said Bendixen. “But whatever people have is very much appreciated. But it must not be damaged easily. I thought that was a great idea, it would be of great help to fill up our trash. “
Bendixen wants to emphasize that there is no pressure to follow the T’s Calendar of Giving Holidays; whatever citizens feel like giving is more than welcome.
Meat and butter are two indispensable items; most of the food bank supplies are donated through local farmers and ranchers. Canned fruit and vegetables, cereals, rice, pasta and others are also needed. A complete list can be found at any of the food bank locations.
The food bank also accepts certain foods that are past the expiration date; canned corn and beans, for example, are still good for five years after stamp dates. More acidic foods, such as tomatoes and pineapples, can only last for one year. Home-made canned food is unacceptable, says Bendixen.
Other non-food items, such as diapers and baby care, toiletries, and vitamins are also accepted.
“Toilet paper is also one of our biggest things,” said Bendixen. Dietary supplements, such as protein drinks are accepted, but not donated via monthly packages; the client must be at the food bank to receive it.
“We’ve served more people this year, and I think it’s a great thing because people are grateful,” said Bendixen. “But I know we plan to move into our early hours next year. But as long as we have food, we’ll provide it. “
“Our community is very good,” Bendixen said of donations. “Millard County is the best. Even during this difficult time, we recently received good donations from various places. “