Colette Freestone, program director, stands by shelves in the Carbon County Food Bank that appear to be full. But come the holidays, a lot of what is there empties out. Donations are down significantly.
Donations to Carbon Food Bank decline 'significantly' this year
When one peers inside the Carbon County Food Bank warehouse, it appears all is well. Shelves are full with canned goods, dry goods and in the front, even freshly baked donuts and bread are standing on the shelves. But it is just the beginning of the season of extended need, and come Nov. 1 those shelves could become bare if some things don't change.
"The Boy Scouts brought us 17,000 lbs. of food during their drive recently, but that won't last us very long," said Collette Freestone, the program manager for the food bank as she stood in front of the now full shelves. "Things are not what they seem or as they appear here today."
The problem for the local food bank, and for those around the country, is the same: the economy. Donations are down and food bank utilization is up. More people need their help every day as the economy at its best is growing slowly and at worst is slipping back into a double dip recession.
"One of our major problems is that the Utah Food Bank, which ships us a lot for base support just doesn't have the food to send either," Freestone states. "What they do send us is not anything like what it used to be."
The reports from around the state starting this past summer, have been bad. The Utah Food Bank actually issued a letter that was read to churches around the Wasatch Front asking for help, because their supplies were down 30 percent and few people were donating. In Ogden the Standard Examiner reported in August that the food baskets passed out were only a third full, whereas they used to be filled to the top
It is a national tragedy in the making. According to Freestone's staff, last month the food bank only brought in half as much food as they had to send out to people in need.
"Right now we are serving everyone who needs help, but we may need to resort to only supplying the three target groups that we are required to supply," stated Freestone. Those groups include people with kids under 6 years old, those over 60 and those with documented disabilities.
In the next month the busiest time of year at the food bank begins; the holidays. Freestone worries that "Happy Holidays" may only be a saying around the food bank this year. The shelves will really start to empty around the first part of November.
"We recently did a Walmart food drive and we only got about $200 in donations and a few hundred pounds of food," she said.
She also stated a lot of the food they get donated isn't always nutritious, so that can be a problem. However, this time of year a lot of people donate fresh vegetables and fruit from their gardens.
"That's really great," she said.
For those in the community that want to help, food donations can be taken to the food bank at 375 South Carbon Avenue in Price. The food bank also takes cash donations. For more information call 435 637-5444.