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Food Insecurity Rises in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City food banks are seeing a dramatic increase in need and more food is going to waste according to the results of a community food assessment city officials released today. The study, which began in 2011 evaluated the local food system from production to table to waste to identify barriers that keep residents from accessing healthy food and ways to prevent waste. 
Mostly dry foods are stacked to the ceiling here at Hildegard Pantry in downtown Salt Lake City. Pantry Director Lydia Herrera urges the public to consider donating produce milk and Thanksgiving Turkey’s.

“The food bank donated some but the numbers and the counts that I have right now are up 500 from last year," Herrera says. "So the Turkey’s I have I realized are not enough.”

Herrera says more people are coming in who say they have jobs. Outlets like Herrera’s are reporting an increase in clientele by sometimes 40 percent.

Mayor Ralph Becker says the city is rewriting local ordinances to make it easier for people to produce and sell their own food as well as eliminate so-called food deserts, places where people might shop at 7-11 because there aren't’ walkable supermarkets.

“I know in the West Capitol hill area, for example the owner of some property literally spent five years trying to encourage a grocery store to come into that area and could never get a grocery store to open,"Becker says."We’re trying to provide the infrastructure and support for more of that to happen.”

The city is also interested in removing policy barriers that prevent businesses from easily donating excess food and using food waste to compost for community gardens.

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