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Recession impacts donations of food

Sun Advocate writer

Officially the recession eased slightly over that last month as the economy shrank less than expected, however, demand at the food bank in Price has not reflected this trend.

Servicing the whole of Carbon County, the food bank has seen a sharp rise in demand for its providings during the last year and even last week.

A majority of items at the bank comes from the Utah food program, however donations often make up the difference when demand is high. Although summer typically is a less eventful season, 2009 has proven otherwise.

"Just this week, we've had 175 people in here," said food bank employee Janet Gunter. "And keep in mind, the week's not over yet."

With patronage so high and donations down, the local food bank has been dealing with shortages. But even so, employees would like to help as many people as possible through the hard times.

"It breaks my heart to see so this many people (out of work and in need)," said food bank employee Mary Quintana as she helped applicants fill out paper work.

Currently, the food bank is in the process of applying for federal stimulus to expand its mission. But community donations are welcomed.

With a majority of local donations coming from local grocers, the bank has been able to continue, despite fewer contributions from individuals.

"It's kind of like a domino effect," related Gunter on how the poor economy has hurt people and the food bank.

Although the problems are not unique to Carbon County, some unusual trends have taken root locally that have caught the bank off guard.

Astounding Gunter and Quintana is the increase in homeless people around Price. They attribute the increase to the closing of the mission in Helper. Although the Avalon house is set to open late in the fall, the food bank hopes it can do what it can until then.

As for a comparison, last year at about the same time, food bank employees were trying to find projects to keep busy.

Although the food bank ties employees try to refer out of work patrons to workforce services, the work flow has not decreased.

"We really try to help everybody and anyone we can," said Gunter.

A majority of the banks operating costs are received through federal grants that typically total to around $100,000 annually. And while the bank is trying to get stimulus money, it has received about $20,000 form the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the year. The monthly food shipments it receives from the Utah food bank is obtained mostly through donations, but as Debbie Hatt at the Community Development Block in Price explains, "It takes a lot of coordination from agencies and the community to operate the facility."

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