Early every Thursday morning, vehicles are lined up near the parking lot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building at 1149 N. 300 West. The 35-foot Utah Food Bank trailer is parked behind the church and pallets of food have been unloaded, ready for volunteers to bag and place in the open trunks of families who are facing hunger in Lehi.
“We fed 244 families today,” said Kevin Thomas on Thursday, June 25. Thomas works for the Utah Food Bank, driving to Utah towns and delivering food. He is in Lehi on Thursdays, unloading 18,000 pounds of food each week for the Utah Food Bank’s Grocery Rescue program. Refrigerated trucks pick up from grocery stores unsalable food that would otherwise be thrown away. Instead, the food is donated, collected and distributed within 24 hours to Utahns who need it most. Dairy, fresh produce and meat are included in the Grocery Rescue donations.
The June 25 delivery included milk, yogurt, eggs, apples, sliced ham, chicken strips, pulled pork, and catfish filets. “This is the first time I’ve seen catfish on the truck,” said Thomas. The distribution of groceries is from 8–9 a.m., but the cars show up at 7 a.m. to make sure they get food. Thomas started bringing a larger truck in the last few months to accommodate the need in Lehi.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic crisis began, 374,000 Utahns and one in seven children were unsure where their next meal would come from. That number is forecasted to increase by 165,000 individuals, based on Feeding America’s Member Impact Analysis.
“We are seeing a lot of first-time recipients, and it’s hard for them to get past their embarrassment, and their pride, to come to us,” said Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank. “We try to make it easy for them and ensure they know we are here to help, which we can only do thanks to the incredible support we are receiving from the community.”
The Utah Food Bank is constantly adjusting the amount of food it brings for the weekly Grocery Rescue delivery, based on the numbers of people who come to the church parking lot for free food. The Utah Food Bank explains on its website, “With our ability to stretch each $1 donated into $7.66 worth of goods and services, every donation, both small and large, has an impact on the lives of Utahns facing hunger. Ongoing community support will be even more vital than ever as Utahns, and Utah businesses, struggle to recover from this.”
To donate to the Utah Food Bank, go to utahfoodbank.org.