Food banks struggle during pandemic: 40% of clients are first-time recipients

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The holidays are usually a time when donations pour in at food banks across Utah to help those who need it most.

But this year, demand for food has tripled — even as food drives have become scarce due to social distancing recommendations. Volunteers, who in normal years help keep the Utah Food Bank operating fully, have also not been coming in to help as often — again, because people are opting to avoid close contact with others during this pandemic.

It’s all happening against the backdrop of COVID-19, which has not only been a health crisis but a burgeoning economic one, as well.

“A lot of these folks went to work on one day, went home that night and the next day when they returned their job was gone,” said Ginette Bott, President and CEO of the Utah Food Bank.

“It was immediate, there was no warning. There wasn’t time for them to prepare financially. And I think people in the services industry that depended on tips and opportunities to have a variety of shifts — those were eliminated overnight,” added Bott.

Bott says she encourages folks to hold food drives, to donate their time as volunteers, and to donate money. The food bank has buying power, she says, to get better prices than individuals will at the grocery store — and to buy the food most in need for Utahns.

If you’d like to donate to the Utah Food Bank, you can do so here.

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