Two Utah food pantries are closing. Blame red tape.


West Valley Metropolis • Brenda and Kelly made it a routine to go to a West Valley Metropolis meals pantry run by Utah Neighborhood Motion. Each month they might keep in line of their automobile to get objects to enhance what that they had of their fridge.

“We used to obtain [federal food assistance],” mentioned Kelly, who requested to be recognized solely by his first identify whereas discussing their want for assist. “Then they decided that we earned an excessive amount of. However, actually, incomes an excessive amount of is simply paying all of your payments and never having sufficient for meals. It’s form of arduous.”

Utah Neighborhood Motion’s vitamin and emergency meals division operates pantries in West Valley Metropolis and Midvale. They’ve been dependable sources for people and households struggling to make ends meet.

However, on the finish of this month, the pantries received’t be working as standard.

The reason being a battle between Utah Neighborhood Motion and Utah Meals Financial institution insurance policies. The meals financial institution, which supplies many of the items for the pantries, requires its shoppers solely to state their names, how many individuals are of their family and what number of kids they feed to gather groceries.

Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Meals Financial institution, highlighted that that is the way in which her group expects the 227 pantries it provides all through the state to function.

“To ensure that us, being Utah Meals Financial institution, to be in compliance with the product that we’re giving them without cost, they should observe our pointers,” Bott mentioned. “They will’t ask for Social Safety [numbers]. They will’t ask for wage verification.”

[Read more: There are 410,000 Utahns who are hungry. Here’s how you can help.]

However the nonprofit Utah Neighborhood Motion has to adjust to federal grants it has obtained to run its applications, requiring its pantries to ask for extra info from those that use the service.

“The funding they’ve,” mentioned Jennifer Godfrey, CEO of Utah Neighborhood Motion, “isn’t almost as restrictive because the funding I’ve.”

For its half, the Utah Meals Financial institution has its personal guidelines to observe.

“If we permit them to go on and ask for all that stuff … we’re out of compliance with the teams that we get meals from,” Bott mentioned. “Then which means we’d be in jeopardy of being an entity that would assist.

“It truly is a disgrace,” she added, “that one thing so simple as a easy clerical process can’t be tailored or adjusted to make certain all these people are receiving meals.”

Both manner, plans are within the works to proceed feeding these in want — even after the pantries in West Valley Metropolis and Midvale stop operations come March.

Round 2020, Godfrey mentioned, the Utah Meals Financial institution started sending out cellular meals pantries. It manages 13 cellular pantries throughout Salt Lake County.

“We began to have conversations with them with reference to transitioning our operations to their cellular pantries as a result of they’ll attain extra those who manner,” Godfrey mentioned. “It’s quicker, when it comes to service, and they’re prepared to serve the communities during which we’re at the moment in.

“As companions,” she mentioned, “each of us intend to ensure the group stays served.”

Utah Neighborhood Motion is collaborating with the Utah Meals Financial institution by supplying details about which areas want probably the most meals help. It’s assessing the place individuals who go to the pantries are from and whether or not there’s a necessity for added drops to serve them.

The teams additionally hope to have the cellular pantries go to 8446 S. Harrison St., Midvale, and 3060 s. Lester St., West Valley Metropolis, the place the Utah Neighborhood Motion pantries now function, mentioned Godfrey. “We’re being very cognizant that there’s not a spot of companies inside the group. And, really, the shoppers on the opposite finish shouldn’t really feel the transition in any respect.”

Bott says this shift won’t be simple, nonetheless.

“When a pantry like this closes, it takes time earlier than folks acknowledge that service isn’t there they usually begin to attain out for assist,” she mentioned. “It wouldn’t be like I might exit in a day or two with a cellular pantry and say, ‘We’re right here.’ It doesn’t work that manner.”

Moreover, the present Utah Neighborhood Motion pantries have the capability to function at greater volumes than a cellular operation.

Within the meantime, Brenda and Kelly, who simply heard concerning the adjustments, are considering the place to go for meals help. They’ve visited another pantries in church buildings in Murray and downtown Salt Lake Metropolis, however none affords as a lot as this program.

“This sort of sucks. They’re one of many massive ones,” Kelly mentioned. “They offer good meals. It’s not all the time expired and the stuff doesn’t all the time go unhealthy.”

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes concerning the standing of communities on the west facet of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps maintain her writing tales like this one; please take into account making a tax-deductible reward of any quantity as we speak by clicking right here.

Correction • Feb. 21, 1:15 p.m.: This story has been up to date to appropriate the spelling of Brenda’s identify and attributions to Kelly’s quotes.