” What are we eating ? Parents hear this question every day, even 100 times a day. When the cupboards are empty and the refrigerator is empty, it can be difficult to answer this question. Food donations can be a lifesaving benefit for families in Utah County, where 14% of residents live in poverty.
Residents of the Utah Valley frequently donate food to help their friends, neighbors and families in the community. Last year, Community Action Services and the Food Bank collected over 3.5 million pounds of food. As a result, families can visit community action services and the food bank to get food and other resources to support them in times of need. Here’s what people need to know about giving and receiving food.
Where do my food donations go?
You sent boxes of cereal and macaroni and cheese with your kids to their school’s food drive, or maybe you dropped off a load of canned goods in the pantry. As you do, you might wonder what will happen to all that food.
Don’t worry, it won’t stay in that donation bin for long. He will soon be on his way to various places to help those in need. Much of the food will go straight to our pantries in Provo, Springville, Heber City and Coalville. There, people can “buy” the items they need to feed their families.
Donations are also channeled to community partners in Utah to ensure they reach those who need them most. Boxes of juice, dried fruit and microwave macaroni could be part of a Kid Nutrition Pak that can be distributed to children in schools across the valley. Other canned goods, baked goods and other necessities may be taken to centers for seniors on fixed incomes. We also provide necessities to dozens of community partners in the area, including Centro Hispano, House of Hope, Alpine House and others.
What type of food should I give?
It’s not always easy to know exactly what to give from your pantry. The best rule of thumb is to donate food and essentials that your own family would need. While canned green beans and ramen noodles are easy to find and cheaper, they’re not always as tasty or healthy as the other options. Some great shelf stable options include rice, beans, pasta, and canned fruits and vegetables. Spices are also great for making meals tastier.
You don’t have to stick to shelf-stable items either. Fresh food is always a welcome gift: If your garden produces more tomatoes than you could ever eat or your zucchini overruns the garden, bring some of the excess to the food bank. To see some of our most needed articles, visit https://bit.ly/3tFumN6.
Can I donate/eat expired food?
YES! Don’t be put off by foods that are past their expiration date. Many shelf stable foods can be eaten several years after the date. We accept canned foods up to four years after their date.
Regardless of the age of the feed, only feed feed that is in good condition. Do not feed food that has been damaged or opened or that is puffy or spoiled.
If you received food from the pantry that has already expired, do not throw it away. Foods that have expired can often be prepared safely for your family. Dates on food labels can have different meanings, and pantry items can still be safe and taste good for a while. To learn more about individual foods, check out the USDA’s FoodKeeper app to see how long foods can be stored and eaten safely.
How can I donate food?
Donating food to community action services and the food bank couldn’t be easier. There are a variety of giving opportunities to fit any schedule and budget. Here are some ideas.
- Food deposit: You can bring food through our warehouse, located at 815 S. Freedom Blvd., Ste. 100, in Provo, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Your donation will be weighed and you will receive a receipt from an employee. If you have shelf stable foods to donate, you can drop by any time that suits you. If you need to come after hours, just drop the food in the chute outside the warehouse doors.
- Food collection: If you want to get your friends, neighbors, co-workers or church group in on the action, you can organize a food drive to collect even more food. We’re happy to help you make your ride a success, whether you need social media promotion, collection bins or other assistance.
- To give money : A few dollars donated can go a long way. Just $1 can actually feed a family of four for an entire day. Community Action Services is able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods through our community partners and the Grocery Rescue Program. So even a small monetary contribution will make a big difference and can help fill the gaps with food that is not given as often.
If you want to bless other families with donated food, or if your family needs help getting enough nutritious food, visit Community Service and the Food Bank. We strive to help all families have enough healthy food and resources to lift them out of poverty.
Karen McCandless is the CEO of Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo. CASFB is located at 815 S. Freedom Blvd., Ste. 100. For more information on educational programs, how to donate, upcoming classes, food drives and more, visit communityactionuc.org or call 801-373-8200.