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’d keep in line of their automobile to get gadgets to enhance what they’d of their fridge.

“We used to obtain [federal food assistance],” stated 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 sort of arduous.”

Utah Neighborhood Motion’s diet 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 gained’t be working as traditional.

The reason being a battle between Utah Neighborhood Motion and Utah Meals Financial institution insurance policies. The meals financial institution, which offers many of the items for the pantries, requires its purchasers 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 tips,” Bott stated. “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 acquired to run its packages, requiring its pantries to ask for extra data from those that use the service.

“The funding they’ve,” stated Jennifer Godfrey, CEO of Utah Neighborhood Motion, “shouldn’t be practically 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 stated. “Then meaning 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 method, 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 stated, the Utah Meals Financial institution started sending out cell meals pantries. It manages 13 cell pantries throughout Salt Lake County.

“We began to have conversations with them with reference to transitioning our operations to their cell pantries as a result of they will attain extra folks that method,” Godfrey stated. “It’s quicker, by way of service, and they’re keen to serve the communities by which we’re presently in.

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

Utah Neighborhood Motion is collaborating with the Utah Meals Financial institution by supplying details about which areas want essentially 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 cell 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, stated Godfrey. “We’re being very cognizant that there’s not a niche of providers throughout the neighborhood. And, actually, the purchasers on the opposite finish mustn’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 and so they begin to attain out for assist,” she stated. “It wouldn’t be like I might exit in a day or two with a cell pantry and say, ‘We’re right here.’ It doesn’t work that method.”

In addition to, the present Utah Neighborhood Motion pantries have the capability to function at increased volumes than a cell operation.

Within the meantime, Brenda and Kelly, who simply heard in regards to 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 provides as a lot as this program.

“This sort of sucks. They’re one of many massive ones,” Kelly stated. “They provide good meals. It’s not at all times expired and the stuff doesn’t at all times go dangerous.”

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes in regards to 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 hold her writing tales like this one; please take into account making a tax-deductible reward of any quantity at present 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.