Tabitha’s Way is a local food pantry that was founded in 2010 by Wendy and Jody Osborne. It all began because Wendy Osborne felt inspired to open the charity and collect donations for the food insecure.
Tabitha’s Way offers temporary food assistance to help members of the community get through tough times.
Today, there are two Tabitha’s Way locations—one in Spanish Fork and one in American Fork. Michael Carter and Al Switzler are co-founders of the American Fork pantry location.
The two food pantries are the primary components of Tabitha’s Way. The clothing bins are secondary, but do provide a funding source so more food can be purchased. There are many clothing donation bins scattered across Utah County. You’ve probably seen them before when you’ve been out and about.
The drop-off bins are for shoes and clothing items only. It is important not to drop food in these bins because food has to be kept in the right conditions so it doesn’t go bad. This is especially true in the summertime. More importantly, some food items can ruin the clothing inside the bins.
Osborne related how an entire bin full of clothing was once ruined by a well-meaning donor who dropped glass jars of spaghetti sauce into the bin. The jars broke and soiled the clothing items inside. To keep this from happening again, Osborne asks donors to please bring all food items directly to one of the two food pantry locations.
Usually, donated clothing is not given directly to local families. Instead, it is resold and the money is put back into the feeding program, where it is desperately needed. Tabitha’s Way has a partnership with local buyers who also help provide free clothing.
For families who need clothing as well as food assistance, Tabitha’s Way does offer clothing vouchers. The vouchers allow individuals and families to get the clothes they need for free.
This year, Tabitha’s Way is in desperate need of food donations. Normally, approximately 80 percent of the food they receive comes form local sources. However, because of COVID-19, two of the organization’s biggest food drives were canceled.
In addition to this challenge, more than 100 smaller food drives were canceled this year. Prior to COVID-19, there were about 7,000 individuals per month who received food assistance from the organization. This year, Osborne stated, the monthly number of food-insecure people is far greater. Each pantry distributes about two semi-truck loads of food per pantry per month.
“We do have a huge need. We’re asking for people to participate. We do have some organized drives through local churches, so we want to encourage people to support that process,” Osborne said.
Local stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints may hold food drives that last up to a month. Osborne encourages people to participate in them. She also invites people to drop food off directly at either food pantry location.
While Osborne stressed that she doesn’t want to exhaust donors, she would graciously accept regular donations from anyone who is in a position to provide them. The food pantries need shelf-stable food items year-round. They also go through cereal quickly, and they’re in constant need of easy-to-prepare items such as mac-and-cheese and ramen noodles.
Tabitha’s Way also accepts fresh produce, which is a great way to get rid of any excess items you harvest from your garden each year.
“You can also buy produce from the store,” Osborne said, “but it’s better to make a financial donation through the website because we have the ability to purchase 25 full meals with just a five-dollar donation.
It doesn’t matter how much you give. Some people give five dollars while others give twenty or more. Every donation, regardless of size, helps to feed families in the community and makes a difference.
Though almost every donation is appreciated, there may be one exception. “We always have a surplus of green beans, so please keep those,” Osborne said with a chuckle.
This year, families who would otherwise go hungry on Thanksgiving received traditional Thanksgiving dinners thanks to Tabitha’s Way. The two locations delivered more than 1,100 full Thanksgiving meals to families in need. They will also be delivering Christmas meals to local families, and you can help make it possible with your donation.
Tabitha’s Way has operated at full capacity throughout the current pandemic, since hunger never rests. The process for getting food is easy. The only thing people need to do is drive up to either food pantry location with a picture ID and register in less than two minutes. The registration process can even be done online in advance to save time. Masks must be worn to comply with current COVID-19 guidelines.
Those who would like more information about Tabitha’s Way are welcome to go to the organization’s website and learn more. Interested individuals can even fill out a form online and volunteer their time, though there are some restrictions on who can volunteer because of COVID-19.
The Spanish Fork pantry is located at 45 East 100 North in Spanish Fork. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. On Tuesdays, the pantry offers extended evening hours from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Every second and fourth Saturday, the pantry opens from 10 a.m. – Noon.
The American Fork pantry is located at 920 East State Road, Suite K in American Fork. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. On Wednesdays, the pantry offers extended evening hours from 6 – 8 p.m. Every first and third Saturday, the pantry is open from 10 a.m. – Noon. (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor.)