WASHINGTON CITY — A mobile food pantry from the Utah Food Bank set up shop for a few hours in the old Nisson grocery store parking lot Thursday while volunteers and others loaded food into the backs of cars whose occupants were taking advantage of the once-a-month service.
“We hope it’s enough to help a family make it to the next paycheck or the next scenario they are trying to work through,” said Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank. “We’re here to help families in crisis.”
The Utah Food Bank received approval from the Washington City Council earlier this month to establish a mobile food pantry location in the city.
“The thing about the opportunity we have today is while there are other pantries located throughout the St. George area, there really isn’t anything convenient for people in Washington,” Bott said.
People may not be able to get to one of the food pantries in St. George due to mobility issues, such as lacking transportation or being unable to travel due to health issues, so a pantry was brought closer to them.
“We’re excited the Utah Food Bank’s expanding into Washington City,” City Councilman Troy Belliston said. “Anything we can do to support the community is a good thing and they’ve been looking to expand into Washington City for a long time.”
According to data from the Utah Food Bank, 1 in 5 children across Washington Iron, Kane, Beaver, Garfield and San Juan counties experiences food insecurity, with 35,800 Southern Utahns overall facing the same concerns.
In Washington County specifically, an estimated 14.3 percent of the population – 21,720 – face food insecurity.
Last year the Utah Food Bank distributed 2.8 million meals through its various partners to Southern Utahns in need – a need that isn’t always evident.
“Hunger is really an interesting scenario to be faced with,” Bott said. “I can’t look at you and see that you’re hungry. I don’t have the ability to see your kitchen to see if you have food.”
Volunteers, many from the Sunshine Rotary Club, helped bag food items and place them in cars that visited the mobile food pantry site.
“You never realize until you start digging into it that there are so many people in need in this community,” Rotary member and volunteer David Nelson said. “Its one of the greatest feelings there is – being able to help your fellow man. Its probably one of the greatest thing you can do.”
On the last Thursday of each month the mobile food pantry truck will be in the old Nisson grocery story parking lot at the corner of Main Street and Telegraph Street in Washington City from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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