The Utah Food Bank unveiled a new truck Tuesday loaded with an arsenal of 15,000 pounds of food ready to fight hunger.
At first glance there is something different about this mobile food pantry, stationed in a parking lot near 1300 South and 700 East — it is refrigerated, with fresh fruits and vegetables. The truck, along with static locations, will help bring 1.6 million pounds of food to Utahns each year.
For more information on mobile food pantries, dial 211 or go to www.utahfoodbank.org
Utah Food Bank CEO Karen Sendelback said the goal of the mobile pantry is to increase food distribution by 44 percent and expand delivery to northern Utah counties.
"The beauty of this thing … is that it allows us to transport perishables," Sendelback said.
"It is more useful," said Salt Lake City resident Joe Chavis as he carried his load of yogurt, milk and cereal to his car. "When you can actually have milk and eggs, it helps." Chavis said typically he would need to go buy milk or other perishable foods on his own to make food he was given. Now he can get it all in one stop.
Chavis said since his employer reduced his hours a couple of months ago, he needed the help of the Utah Food Bank to get by. He likes the idea of the new mobile service and says it is faster to walk around a truck to get what he needs rather than walking into a warehouse.
"It is great — we definitely need it," Chavis said.
A partnership between Kraft Foods and Smith’s Food and Drug Stores makes the mobile pantry and stocking it with food possible. Next to the Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry are folding tables filled with watermelons, orange juice, milk and yogurt.
"The fact Kraft and Smith’s [Food and Drug Stores] have come together and made this possible for us is a real blessing for the people we are serving," Sendelback said.
Utah ranks fourth in the nation for food insecurity, a term referring to people who don’t know where they will find their next meal.
Maria Meza and her husband have four children and are looking for work.
"Now I have food," Meza said with a smile as she hefted a bag of cereal and some milk. A half-hour before, she didn’t know where her next meal was going to come from.
Marsha Gilford, Smith’s Food and Drug Stores vice president for public affairs, said the mobile pantry is one of only 25 in the nation and will be making stops at 17 new sites along the Wasatch Front.
"This provides us an opportunity to distribute food on a mobile basis," Gilford said. "It keeps it very local."
Kraft Foods Customer Business Manager Kim Hubbart said the mobile food pantry helps "round out a meal" by providing more than just nonperishable food to make a healthy meal.
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