Warehouse employee Adam Waite manages the stocking procedure at the Utah Food Bank in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 5, 2022.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah Food Bank president and CEO Ginette Bott said she knew many families faced at least 12 to 18 months of struggling to put food on the table.
As predicted, demand at food pantries surged during the pandemic, but now it doesn’t show any signs of slowing thanks to the ever-increasing prices of food, housing and gas.
“The pandemic really leveled the playing field, meaning that everybody had challenges throughout,” Bott said. “Then all of a sudden inflation popped up. And so the same families that were struggling because of COVID are still struggling now, hampered by inflation. It’s impacting all of us … but if you’re a family who has been impacted by all of that from COVID and you’re still trying to catch up, inflation has been horrible.”
Bott said the Utah Food Bank saw nearly three times the usual amount of demand at the busiest time during the pandemic, and even now, it’s more than twice as busy as normal. At the same time demand for food from pantries is up, frequent supply chain snafus have made certain items — such as baby formula — harder for consumers to find.
“If the stores don’t have those kinds of items, that isn’t something that I can go out and find either. Just because we’re a food bank doesn’t mean we can get the things the store doesn’t have,” Bott said, adding that the Utah Food Bank is carefully monitoring shortages to be prepared for what might come next. “Baby food and formula are things that we’re very cautious with and very careful with because of expiration dates.”
Bill Tibbitts, deputy executive director of Crossroads Urban Center, a food pantry in Salt Lake City, said the organization tries to maintain as much stock as it can, because there’s not anywhere else for people to turn.
“Usually, we are the end of the line,” he said. “When people come to us, they have already used other options. … If we don’t have something, there’s not a great place to refer people for things like formula.”
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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News
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