Local food pantry enlists neighbors in battle against hunger
A little over three years ago, two North Utah County residents started Tabitha’s Way, a local food pantry at 920 East State Road in American Fork. Each month Tabitha’s Way provides temporary food assistance to over 800 families. That’s more than 3,000 individuals and over 50% of them are children.
“We focus on getting food to families who are hungry or food insecure or going through struggles ranging from homelessness to the loss of a job. They come here to pick up free groceries,” said Anadine Marshall, Pantry Manager for Tabitha’s Way.
Anyone who needs food from Tabitha’s Way will have an intake interview where their needs are assessed as well as follow-up interviews. “Our mission is to feed individuals and families temporarily and recommend resources toward self-reliance. We review their cases every few weeks to see how they’re doing. It’s a caring situation,” continued Marshall.
Tabitha’s Way co-founders Mike Carter and Al Switzler have worked all over the world feeding the hungry. While researching other food pantries and working with the Utah Food Bank before starting their own food pantry, they learned that the greatest food insecurity in Utah is in North Utah County. People who volunteer and contribute to Tabitha’s Way are often surprised at the number of people in need so close to them. “I feel like this place is equally feeding the hungry and educating and raising awareness of neighbors who need help,” said Marshall. “We have a lot of food in this country and we’re not really great at distributing that food, in my opinion. People are amazing – they’re generous and they want to give, but they don’t know how to give in their community outside their church.”
In addition to feeding 3,000 individuals a month from the food pantry, Tabitha’s Way also feeds four senior centers who pick up food once a week. There are nine grocery stores who contribute to Tabitha’s Way weekly as well.
“When we started this pantry, we made it a priority to treat everyone who comes here with respect and kindness. When you’re in need, that’s when you need the most care. We want to make this the most safe, clean, respectful, environment that we can for them,” said Marshall. Tabitha’s Way has five permanent staff members, but everyone else in the large operation is a volunteer. The food pantry has been so successful that they are doubling in size and expanding to the building behind them in the next few weeks.
The pantry at Tabitha’s Way is always in need of hygiene products for women, toilet paper, fresh produce from the garden, and grocery bags. “If you want to help us, have a grocery bag drive! They cost us three cents each and each meal is ten cents. For what it costs us to buy three bags we could be feeding someone a meal,” explained Marshall. Right now, Tabitha’s Way is also collecting new backpacks and school supplies to offer to elementary school children in Lehi and other North Utah County cities. Tabitha’s Way welcomes help from church youth groups, families, and others who wish to do community service at their American Fork location. Call 801-692-1881 or visit tabithasway.com to arrange a time to do service.