Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and loved ones over a large meal. For many in the local community, this dinner would not be possible without the generosity of others.
Area food banks tend to see a spike in donations during the holiday season. A surge in food bank recipients also grows during this time of year.
According to Community Services Program Manager, Collette Freestone-Child, the Carbon County Food Bank serves approximately 450 families each month, however, during the holidays, approximately 500 plus families benefit from the service. The Emery County Food Bank serves an average of 120 families each month and 160 families during the holidays.
Although area food banks do receive shipments from the Utah Food Bank, they rely heavily on donations. “Grocery stores bring donations daily,” explained Freestone-Child. “We also receive community food and cash donations.”
During the government shutdown in October, local food banks suffered a $32,000 revenue cut. Even though the shutdown is over, the funding will not return. According to Freestone-Child, the crunch is being felt, and more now than ever, donations are needed.
To put things into perspective, approximately 7,000 pounds of food daily goes out the door of the Carbon County Food Bank. During the busy season, about 48,000 pounds per month is distributed to needy families.
“We accept everything from fresh produce to non-grocery items such as toilet paper and paper towels,” explained Freestone-Child. “We even had someone do a service project and they gathered pet food. These items are distributed based on need, and are given out sparingly.”
Community food drives are common between November and December. Schools, church groups and various organizations gather food as service projects for the holidays. Local food pantries appreciate these donations, but want to stress the need for supplies throughout the year. “With reduced funding, donations are crucial to our survival,” she explained. “Even if people can’t donate food or cash, we invite anyone to volunteer here at the facility.”
Walking through the Price facility, it is clear that a lot of hard work goes into organizing the food pantry. Volunteers are always welcome to help with sorting, boxing and organizing goods. There is no limit on how much or how little time volunteers spend at the food bank, any help is appreciated.
In order for families to receive food bank assistance, they must first complete an application. Based on certain criteria including income, a family will either be approved or not for assistance.
According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services 2013 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, the poverty guideline for a family of four is $1,962 per month or $23,550 per year.
Also a concern to many including Freestone-Child is the senior poverty rate. Many retired seniors are on a strict fixed income, many of which are well below poverty level. By completing an application, many seniors may qualify for food assistance. “Lots of times, they wait until all other resources have been used,” she explained. “Some of these folks need to be pretty desperate before they contact us.”
Older residents in Carbon and Emery counties need to be aware of food bank services. Delivery is available to those who cannot travel to the facility to pick up food. “We will make sure that those who qualify for assistance, receive their food,” she assured. “We make sure nobody goes hungry.”
Carbon and Emery county residents may apply for food assistance by visiting the appropriate county food bank. There, applications are available.