SALT LAKE CITY — With the holidays quickly approaching, more and more Utahns are in need of assistance to survive. The food banks are seeing a 40 percent increase in the number of people asking for help, but the resources are limited.
Families struggling financially often have to turn to a food pantry, like Hildegard's, next to the Episcopal Church. Many organizations are trying to help those in need, but they need support from those in the community, people who are willing to lend a hand.
Nina Reed and her four young children — ages 7, 3, 2 and two months — are guests at the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City. There they are getting assistance, during a difficult time financially.
"It's better than being out in the cold and bouncing from house to house with my kids," Reed said, "and at least they know they are stable and they are safe."
But it is not just the homeless who are struggling. At Hildegard's food pantry, demand is high.
"Both parents working and they still can't meet the needs for their food," said Lydia Herrera, the pantry's director. "After rent, car, gas, bills, they don't have enough to feed their children."
Wednesday, city leaders spoke out about the community need with results of a study that found households struggling with food insecurity is on the rise. The need isn't just around the holidays.
"It's really important now to think about these issues, but also year round, how we can better support those that that are having trouble accessing good foods," said Bridgette Stuchly, sustainability outreach manager for Salt Lake City.
Sara Ma is a senior at West High, and part the Real Food Rising Project. She has volunteered at the food pantry and soup kitchen and says it has been life changing.
"I was astounded just at the magnitude of the food problem in Utah, hundreds of people come in here every day," Ma said.
With the need only increasing, advocates for the needy and homeless say it is people like Sara who volunteer, or those who make donations, either cash or food or clothing items, that makes all the difference for those in need.
"We could not exist without the generosity of our community and time and time again our community steps up and shows their support," said Celeste Eggert with the road home.