By Jennifer Durrant
Since COVID-19 turned everyone’s livelihood upside down, there are more and more people in need of assistance.
In April, the unemployment rate rose 10.3 percent, bringing the total rate to 14.7 percent — the biggest over-the-month increase and the highest rate since the U.S. government started counting the unemployment rate in 1948.
In addition to those who have lost their jobs, there are also temporarily furloughed workers and others who took pay cuts but kept their jobs as a result of coronavirus.
The economic future is looking bleak for many families, and it looks like recovery will be slow.
Asking for help, though, often takes a huge hit to anyone’s pride, M. Nora Bouchard, leadership coach and author of “Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need,” told CNBC. According to Bouchard, people are hard-wired to be independent and self-reliant.
“We don’t want to be ashamed of our situation, or come across as incompetent,” she says. “So, we work really hard to make sure people don’t see us this way.”
There is no shame in asking for help, especially in a significant economic and health crisis, and there are local programs here to help. Here is how to find them:
If your family needs help putting food on the table, several local programs can help: Community Action Services and Food Bank has the largest food pantries in Utah, Summit, and Wasatch counties.
Simply go to the pantry during operating hours. You will meet with a counselor to assess your situation and budget.
Once you qualify, you will receive a prepacked box of food with enough to feed your family. Hours and locations are posted on the website.
Food Not Bombs has refrigerators in Provo and Spanish Fork filled with food available to anyone. Clients need to wear gloves and only come during daylight hours. Watch the group’s Facebook page for updates.
Food and Care Coalition in Provo provides meals and sack lunches to homeless, transient, and low-income people. For more information, call 801-373-1825.
The Department of Workforce Services has a nutrition assistance program (SNAP) for low-income people. Call (866) 435-7414 extension 3 for more information.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offers food assistance to families. Call 801-851-7340 for details. Rent/Housing Assistance
Community Action Services and Food Bank has both emergency housing and rent assistance available to those who qualify. New, recently approved funding is now available, so if you need help paying rent, call (801-691-5238, and a caseworker will discuss options and eligibility with you.
The Financial Literacy Center at Community Action Services and Food Bank is not doing one-on-one financial counseling or classes currently.
However, it prepared a virtual financial learning class, now streaming on YouTube, to help people during the crisis.
If you have lost your job, you have likely also lost your insurance. If you need to see a doctor, dentist, or mental health specialist during the crisis, there are places to get help.
Community Health Connects mission is to improve access to health and dental care for low-income Utah County residents. It accomplishes this mission through a network of volunteer providers. Call 801-818-3015 for more information or check out its website.
Another option for healthcare is the Mountainlands Community Health Center in Provo. It provides health care to low-income, underinsured, and uninsured Utah County residents. Go to mountainlands.org for more information.
Do you need help with something else during the pandemic? United Way of Utah County has a helpline with a comprehensive list of community resources. Just call 211 for help. We are living through a significant health and economic crisis, and there is no shame in asking for help.
In our community, you can find help with food, rent, health care, finances, and more. (Serve Daily submission.)