SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake County has launched a new website that provides easy access to food resources for those who may be struggling.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Utahns struggling with food insecurity saw a sharp increase and food assistance services were in full demand.

According to an annual report tracking Household Food Security in the United States in 2020, one in 10 Utah households experience food insecurity and more than 102,000 Utah families do not have the resources to buy enough food.

The new Food Access webpage provides simple, clear links to all the food assistance programs available throughout Salt Lake County and Utah. Links and descriptions to programs such as The National School Lunch Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, and local food banks can be found.

For those who are 60 years of age or older, links are available to Meals on Wheels, local Senior Center meals, Utah Food Banks, Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and Senior Center Farmers Markets.

“In 2020, service providers saw a large increase in food assistance need,” said Marti Woolford, webpage creator and Special Projects Coordinator for the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office for New Americans. “United Way 2-1-1 received more than twice the number of calls from people seeking help with food and the Utah Food Bank’s mobile pantry program saw a 192 percent increase in households served since the pandemic began over the same time last year.”

County officials say throughout 2020, United Way 2-1-1 received over double the usual amount of calls from people who needed help with food assistance. 2-1-1 is a free number that connects people to services such as housing and utility assistance, food resources, legal aid, and more.

The Utah Food Bank’s mobile pantry saw a 192 percent increase in the amount of households served throughout the pandemic. Woolford says thankfully, emergency food assistance programs such as SNAP were able to respond to the sharp increase in demand during the COVID-19 crisis.

“If these programs were not able to address the need, the food insecurity rate in 2020 would have been much higher,” says Woolford.

Even resources for pet owners who may be struggling to feed their furry loved ones can use the Food Access webpage to explore resources such as Utah Best Friends and Pet Crew Pantry, services that provide pet food to residents who may be struggling.

“The health and well-being of the residents of Salt Lake County is a top priority of my administration,” says Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “Our senior centers provide a nutritious lunch to older adults. The WIC program ensures that babies and new moms have access to healthy food and our Pet Crew Pantry makes sure that our family pets do not go without food either. The new Food Access webpage makes it much easier to get help from these county programs and many more food resources.”