To participate, take the brown paper bag that came in your newspaper Wednesday, fill it with non-perishable food items, and take it to your local food pantry or any of the drop-off locations listed on the bag. Or fill out the form on the side of the bag and make a tax-deductible monetary donation. It will be money well spent.
Utah ranks a disturbing seventh in the nation in food insecurity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 15 percent of our population is in danger of missing a meal today. An estimated 114,000 households, many with children, struggle to put food on the table.
Due to the failure of government programs to meet the most basic needs of the chronically poor, low wages that plague the working poor, and temporary financial setbacks that force some families to seek emergency assistance, food pantries are an essential part of the social safety net in Utah.
Our 64 food pantries in 26 counties are staffed by volunteers, operate on tight budgets and feed as many as 20,000 families per month. But don't count on your neighbors to help your neighbors. Last year, despite Utah's booming economy, food bank donations were down by 15 percent during the holidays. We can't afford a repeat.
Food drive organizers hope to collect 1.5 million pounds of non-perishable food and raise enough money to purchase 24,000 turkeys by Christmas Eve, and the benefits will extend well beyond the holidays. The food and money you give in the next two months will help stock the shelves at food pantries through the hard winter months, when thoughts turn from charity to credit card bills, and donations dwindle.
That said, we must not forget that hunger knows no season. While the shelves runneth over at the holidays, donations are needed year-round.
To donate, volunteer, hold a food drive, or learn more about hunger in Utah, visit http://www.csc-ut.org. To find the food pantry nearest you, visit http://www.foodbanksofutah.org. And to get that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from doing the right thing, fill that brown bag with food today.