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CASFB: Food demand skyrockets; double the need from 2022 to 2023

By Jessica Miller - Special to the Daily Herald | Oct 22, 2023

Courtesy photo

This undated photo shows Community Action Services & Food Bank in Provo.

Inflation and rising housing costs are increasing food insecurity across Utah. It is estimated that food prices in Utah increased 20.4% from 2018 to 2022, while the household median income only increased by 11.1%. This is one 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 in its six food pantries. This year, however, that number skyrocketed to 12,144. Why the huge increase in demand for food? 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’s pantries to stretch their budgets.

Food bank vs. food pantry

So which is it? Is CASFB a food bank or is it a food pantry? Are those the same things? CASFB is unique in Utah because it is both a food bank and it has food pantries. As a food bank, CASFB receives food donations from community members, local grocery stores and farmers, and stores it to distribute to multiple food pantries throughout the community. CASFB’s food pantries, on the other hand, function much like a grocery store where guests can come and shop for the items they need.

As the second largest food bank in Utah, CASFB provides food and other necessities 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; senior centers; and community agencies.

Food and more

Another distinction within Utah County is that CASFB provides more than just food. It is committed to fostering self-reliance. For those experiencing homelessness or another type of crisis, the path to self-reliance starts with food and/or a place to sleep for the night. It may be assisting with rent or utilities so a family can stay housed while they look for a new job or paying a security deposit so a domestic violence victim can get into a safe, permanent housing situation. It may be providing someone with a bus pass to get to a job interview or to work, or paying for a copy of a drivers license so they have what they need to even apply for a job.

For others, fostering self-reliance means teaching them sound financial principles or counseling a family about how they need to prepare to buy a house. It may also mean providing them with low-cost access to a community garden plot 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 of these things and more.

Food & More Gala raises funds for mobile food pantry

With the need for assistance so high, 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 for all those who attended, donated, sponsored or provided items for its auction. The event was a huge success!

The money raised from the gala will outfit a mobile food pantry that will serve rural communities. This mobile pantry will include a freezer, a refrigerator and several shelves for food. In addition, the van will be outfitted with a TV monitor on which guests will be provided with nutrition and other helpful education. Guests will receive information on additional outreach and other community services in their area, helping families and individuals to expand their opportunities to become self-sufficient.

How to help

As we approach the giving season, we invite you to partner with Community Action Services & Food Bank. The fall and winter seasons, with their corresponding holidays, are a great opportunity to host a food drive. Visit the CASFB website to schedule a food drive and receive 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 location (815 S. Freedom Blvd.). Watch the CASFB website and weekly social media #givingtuesdaynow posts for the most needed items.

Volunteers are also always welcome! 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 every member of the community has food on the table starts with getting involved. Choose today to make a difference and join CASFB in helping others become more self-sufficient.


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