Inflation and rising housing costs are increasing food insecurity in Utah. Food prices in Utah are estimated to have increased by 20.4% from 2018 to 2022, while median household income increased by only 11.1%. It’s an insight into why more and more people are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table.
During the month of September 2022, Community Action Services & Food Bank (CASFB) served 6,480 guests at its six food pantries. This year, however, that number jumped to 12,144. Why the huge increase in food demand? High housing costs and inflation. There are fewer dollars in the family budget to buy food, and each dollar buys less at the store. Many families turn to CASFB pantries to stretch their budgets.
Food Bank vs. Food Pantry
What is this? Is CASFB a food bank or food pantry? Are these the same things? CASFB is unique in Utah because it is both a food bank and has food pantries. As a food bank, CASFB receives donations of food from community members, local grocery stores and farmers and stores it to distribute to multiple food pantries throughout the community. On the other hand, CASFB food pantries function much like a grocery store where guests can come and shop for the products they need.
As Utah’s second largest food bank, CASFB provides food and other essential items to its six food pantries, as well as to a network of 90 community partners — including Tabitha’s Way, Christian Center of Park City and MOSAIC Interfaith; K-12 schools; Utah Valley University; centers for the elderly; and community agencies.
Another distinction within Utah County is that CASFB provides more than food. It is committed to promoting self-confidence. For those experiencing homelessness or another type of crisis, the road to self-reliance starts with food and/or a place to stay. This could be help with rent or utilities so a family can stay housed while they look for a new job, or paying a security deposit so a victim of domestic violence can find safe, permanent housing. It could be providing someone with a bus pass to get to a job interview or to a job, or paying for a copy of a driver’s license so they have everything they need to even apply for a job.
For others, promoting self-confidence means teaching them sound financial principles or advising a family on how they should prepare to buy a house. It could also mean providing low-cost access to a community garden where they can grow their own food (and teach them how to do it) or to a commercial kitchen they can use to start their own business.
CASFB does all these things and more.
Food & More Gala raises funds for mobile food pantry
With such a great need for help, this September CASFB hosted its first ever Food & More Gala to help raise money for CASFB initiatives. Sponsors included First Utah Bank (presenting sponsor) and local pantry sponsors: All West Communications, Altabank, Art City Church, Dutch Bros. Coffee, Flare Construction, Mark and Carol Wolfert on behalf of doTERRA, Painter Family Foundation and Zions Bank.
CASFB is incredibly grateful to everyone who attended, donated, sponsored or provided items for its auction. The event was a huge success!
Money raised from the gala will equip a mobile food pantry that will serve rural communities. This mobile pantry will include a freezer, refrigerator and several shelves for food. In addition, the van will be equipped with a television monitor on which guests will receive information on nutrition and other useful training. Guests will receive information about additional information and other community services in their area, helping families and individuals expand their opportunities to become independent.
How can I help
As the season of giving approaches, we invite you to partner with Community Action Services & Food Bank. The fall and winter seasons, with the corresponding holidays, are a great opportunity to organize food. Visit the CASFB website to plan a food drive and get helpful tips on how to make it as successful as possible.
Food and other donations – such as hygiene products, diapers, laundry detergent and other household goods – are always welcome. Drop off donations at our Provo Food Bank (815 S. Freedom Blvd.). Watch for posts on the CASFB website and weekly #givingtuesdaynow social media for the most needed items.
Volunteers are always welcome too! Visit the website to schedule a time for a group or individual volunteer session. Volunteers help with a variety of tasks and gain a deep understanding of the mission and purpose of these services.
Financial donations support and expand our local services and initiatives and can be made through the website.
Ensuring that every member of the community has food on the table starts with participation. Choose today to make a difference and join CASFB to help others become more independent.