Utah Food Bank expects demand to remain high in 2022
Demand at the Utah Food Bank and at pantries increased during the holidays, which is a yearly trend. But they’re gearing up for a busy 2022 as uncertainty related to the pandemic and economy continue.
What “normal” looks like at the Utah Food Bank has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. Demand first skyrocketed in 2020, then leveled out early in 2021, said Ginette Bott, CEO and president of the organization.
She said budgets are tight this time of year with added expenses from the holidays. But, she expects the recent uptick to continue.
“We are gearing up for at least another 18 to 24 months of increased need,” Bott said. “We really feel like we're seeing numbers now with the virus [and] the new variant that are higher than we've ever had before.”
Kristen Clark oversees operations at Switchpoint — a community resource center in St. George with an emergency food pantry. Clark said there was a rise in people asking for help in recent months, but it hasn’t been “alarming.”
She said there are compounding crises, but inflation is a big one right now.
“A lot of people are really struggling with their grocery bill because it has doubled, and they are very worried about that because obviously their income … has not doubled,” Clark said.
For those looking to help the Utah Food Bank, Bott said “food, time or money” are always appreciated. For those seeking resources and help, she said people should get in touch with the food bank to find their nearest resources.
“The biggest mistake that people make is they wait too long to start to ask for help and then their pantries at home are completely empty,” she said.