The Salt Lake City Mayor’s office has for 13 years hosted a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in partnership with the Utah Food Bank. Today more than 100 volunteers lent their time and energy to the cause.
Ginette Bott with the Utah Food Bank addressed volunteers early Monday morning about the value of their service. Bott says last year volunteers donated 103,000 hours of time to the organization.
“Hunger is a huge problem, but it’s through the efforts of folks like you and like me, as we join together, not only on a special day like today but every day to join the fight against hunger,” Bott says.
Bott says 17 percent of Utah’s population lives below the poverty line which is a little more than $23,000 a year for a family of four.
Volunteers hustle to fill reusable bags full of things like fresh vegetables, eggs and laundry detergent. Once they complete this task, they’ll load the goods into their own personal vehicles and begin working through a long list of the names and addresses of people who qualify for donations.
Blair Nastasi is volunteering today with her business partner. She says it’s eye-opening to see how many people actually struggle to put food on the table.
“We are dropping off the boxes, mostly to seniors and people that have disabilities and are unable to come and get the food themselves,” Nastasi says. “It should be nice, just to kind of interact with some of them and actually meet the people that are receiving the donations.”
Amanda Anderson coordinates volunteers for Salt Lake City. She says Utah’s strong culture of service makes this one of the largest volunteer efforts every year.
“Sometimes people think it would be a little bit more difficult to go out recruit, and definitely there are some recruitment strategies, but I often find that I have to do a little bit less leg work bringing people in because people just ask me,” Anderson says.
Anderson says a variety of opportunities are available for anyone interested.