Federal grant helps Community Action Services & Food Bank to stop hunger in Utah

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Every day, people in Utah struggle to put enough healthy food on the table to feed themselves and their families. As costs increase, so does the problem of hunger in Utah. From May 2022 to May 2023, our pantries saw a 155 percent increase in usage.

    Community Action Services & Food Bank is committed to helping individuals and families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. Generous donations from the community go a long way to supporting that goal, and we look for grants whenever possible to help stretch these donations even further. Community Action Services & Food Bank was recently awarded a Grower’s Grant through the Local Food Purchasing Assistance (LFPA) program. Thanks to this amazing grant with funds through the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Community Action Services & Food Bank will be able to help both underserved local food growers and hungry families in Utah.

Feeding Hungry Families

     More than 400,000 people in Utah are food insecure, which means that they do not always know where their next meal will come from. When it comes to the children in our state, one in nine children don’t get enough food to eat. Not having enough food to eat can lead to poor physical and mental health, which leads to poor physical and cognitive development.

     Through the USDA grant, Community Action Services & Food Bank will be able to purchase and distribute more than $600,000 of food through its six food pantries and distribution partners (Tabitha’s Way, Christian Center of Park City, International Rescue Committee & MOSAIC Inter-faith Ministries) by the end of 2024.

Providing Fresh Food

     Food insecurity is more than just not having access to food; it also includes not having access to healthy foods.

     Fresh, healthy food like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats can be more expensive and even difficult to find. For people on a tight budget, dollars are stretched often by buying cheaper, and in many cases, nutritionally inferior foods. Eating foods that lack sufficient nutrition can result in long-term health issues, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

     Working with farmers and food producers in our community, Community Action Services & Food Bank will also alleviate this nutrition insecurity, specifically providing struggling families with access to fresh, healthy food from local sources. The LFPA grant will help Community Action Services & Food Bank expand its reach to work with growers and ranchers around the state to get fresh, healthy foods into the hands of hungry people. Many of these growers include Home Grown Greens in Corinne, Vann’s Vegetables in Richfield, and IRC’s New Roots CSA. Another program partner, the People’s Health Clinic, will prescribe fresh, healthy food to patients with health conditions that can benefit from a better diet. These “prescriptions” can then be filled at CCPC’s mobile food pantry.

Helping Underserved and Minority Communities

     Regional cooperation between different areas and cultures around the state leads to better service for underserved Utahns. Increased funding from this grant will allow us to work with more partners all over the state to reach more communities. We will be able to work with about 50 rural and refugee food producers in the state to provide fresh food to families through several food banks and programs.

     Food insecurity can affect people of different cultural backgrounds in unique ways. In 2021, 22% of Black children and 18.5% of Latino children in the United States lived in food-insecure households. People who were born in other countries may have a hard time finding or affording food ingredients they are familiar with, which can contribute to food insecurity. Working with farmers markets and community gardens, will allow us to have a greater capacity to provide more fresh ingredients that are commonly used in cultural dishes that different communities are familiar with.

     Food insecurity is something that hundreds of thousands of our neighbors all over Utah struggle with every day. Working together, Community Action Services & Food Bank, our partner organizations, and generous Utahns can work to put an end to hunger in our community.

Submitted by Jessica Miller

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