A number of Utahns are still struggling to get enough food for their families despite overall favorable economic news. Rural Utahns in particular are facing tough times with more than 1 in 5 kids unsure how they getting their next meal. Ginette Bott is the chief development officer for the Utah Food Bank. She says the type of people needing food assistance is changing.
"The economy is improving and we are seeing people get back to work. But unfortunately some of these families are working a couple of part-time jobs and so they’re not quite able to make ends meet," she says. "So the rent gets paid first, perhaps the car payment, whatever their list of budget items seems to be, food seems to hit the bottom of that list.”
Bott also says summer is a particularly challenging time for the agency as demand goes up while supplies dwindle.
“…and we find that’s based on mainly children being out of school and so many of our students in Utah are taking advantage of the free breakfast, free lunch program,” she says.
Bott says it’s unfortunate that food assistance is getting politicized but it’s been a fact of life with her agency for many years.
“But I think the biggest thing we struggle with here is, you know a child doesn’t choose to be a Democrat or a Republican, a child doesn’t choose a political stance, a child is just hungry,” says Bott.
Last year the food bank distributed more than 36 million pounds of food statewide and only about 20 percent stemmed from the federal farm bill. Bott says the Summer Business Food and Fund Drive is helping to bridge the current gap in donations. Virtual donations can be made now on the Utah Food Bank website at UtahFoodBank.org.