Food donations scarce despite prevalence of hunger | News, Sports, Jobs






Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Volunteers Jeff and Jamie Dunbabin, both from Highland, load food into a family’s vehicle at the Tabitha’s Way North County Food Pantry on Friday, April 17, 2020 in American Fork.

Tiffany Skipps, her disabled husband and their six children would have a very different life without food donations. “It would be really different. Just thinking about it, I’d have to spend more money just to get the bare minimum,” Skipps said.

It is difficult for Skipps to work because her husband has to be looked after around the clock. Because he always needs someone with him, the family’s money doesn’t go very far.

For the past few months, Skipps has been able to get groceries and other necessities from Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry in American Fork. “I can’t imagine life without Tabitha. Since I can’t get a job outside of home, that’s the big hardship,” she said.

Getting groceries from a pantry is different than going to a grocery store. There aren’t always many choices about what to get, but Skipps is content with what she gets to support her family.

According to Mike Carter, one of the founders of Tabitha’s Way in American Fork, there are a variety of families who are customers of the pantry. People who never thought they would need help putting food on the table are now finding that they provide essentials to their families through donations. The problem is that donations are falling.

Evan Cobb, Daily Herald file photo

Donated items will be held in containers in the storage shed on Tabitha’s Way at Spanish Fork on Friday 27 April 2018.

“Right now, high inflation has created many problems for food supplies. The number of people receiving food is very high. We get people saying they’ve never been in a pantry in their life, but they need to get in now,” Carter said.

The pantry used to see about 15 to 20 new families in a week. However, in a single week this month, 44 new families entered the pantry.

“We had 18 new families one day, which is what we usually get in a week,” Carter said of the American Fork location. Tabitha’s Way in Spanish Fork records similar numbers.

Carter said that while food prices remain high, many people are keeping their grocery budgets the same. So consumers get 10-15% less when they use the same amount of money they previously used to buy groceries. This is one of the reasons why more and more people need help.

However, food supplies and food banks are receiving fewer and fewer food donations from grocery stores. “Less food coming out of the stores means we have less to give out,” Carter said.

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Alpine’s Natalie Lyman joins her sons in donating groceries at the Tabitha’s Way North County Food Pantry on Friday, April 17, 2020 in American Fork.

Another result of high inflation and tighter budgets is that people have less surplus food to donate to pantries. According to Carter, a typical grocery run that used to result in 10 to 12 large grocery loads now only produces about two to three of those loads.

According to http://FeedingAmerica.org, 53 million people turned to food banks or other community services for food in 2021, while financial donations nationwide fell. According to Carter, pantry labor costs are higher because they had to increase employee wages. “Fuel costs have doubled. Many other things cost more. So it’s a perfect storm — demand has increased significantly, costs have increased, but the amount of food and financial donations have decreased,” he said.

As the need for hunger continues to increase, food banks and pantries will continue to try to keep up. The best way to help is by donating food and money so they can keep feeding the hungry. For more information about volunteering or giving food or money, people can visit Tabitha’s Way Food Pantries at http://tabithasway.org or Community Action Services and Food Bank at http://communityactionprovo.org.



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