Food demand reaches record level
In a steady increase, demand at the Price food bank has peaked at its highest level, with over 409 families served during the past month. Previously, the record last year was 300 families served. While donations have held steady, the food bank has been struggling to accommodate the increased demand and is relying more than ever on the community to keep its mission going.
"I get a truck from the Utah Food Bank once a month, but, after that, it's all donations," said Jackie Butkovich, food bank manager. "We're really low on food right now."
According to Ms. Butkovich, one reason for the sudden increase is due to unemployment benefits running out, which leaves many families with no reliable income. Area jobs have also become scarce, as unemployment is at its highest level since 2003, according to statistics from the Utah State Department of Workforce Services.
In order to qualify for food at the bank, a family must prove that they are 125 percent impoverished and can pick up food once every 30 days. While supplies might be limited, personnel try to make the food supply they have meet the current demand.
"We stretch it out the best we can; people might only get a few cans, but something is better than noting," said Ms. Butkovich.
Although the unemployed make up a big percentage of clientele, seniors are another group that is regularly in need of food. Many older people are dependent on Social Security payments. Along with the disabled, they make up about 35 to 40 percent of food recipients.
When it comes to donations, Ms. Butkovich indicated that anything canned is appreciated. At the moment, food items such as chili and soup are in shortage.
"Canned items are very helpful, but we also need anything tomato-based like sauce or paste," she said. "There really isn't anything we can't use."
Many times, people have asked for items such as flour and salt for baking. Thus, the food bank has been trying to provide things that can enable people to cook, such as potatoes or other culinary items.
"Our numbers are higher, but the need is greater, and I just want to thank the community for all their support; they've been so helpful. We got 40 pounds of soup last week," said Ms. Butkovich
Many members of the community have helped support the bank, including local businesses and the college, which sponsored a trick or treat for food. .