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Rising prices stretch food pantries

Rising prices stretch food pantries



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Food pantries across the state are being stretched thin because of rising gas and food prices. Some pantry directors say demand may be too high.

With grocery prices on the rise, Utah's food banks are feeling the impact. One group that's using the pantries more often is students.

Cache Community Food Pantry Director Matthew Whitaker said, "I am seeing more families that are attending (Utah State) University. Not so much single, individual students per se, but families with children who are attending the university."

USA Today reports other pantries in Washington, New Hampshire and Colorado are seeing a rush of college students coming in. Here in Utah, demand seems broader, affecting basically everyone in general.

Whitaker said, "Typically, in the past, I was serving about 85 or so families a week, and I'm up to about 105 to 110 a week now."

Whitaker says he has enough food to keep up with demand from people attending or living near Utah State University for now, but donations are drying up.

Whitaker said, "People who typically donate on a regular basis have called and have been very apologetic, but they say they just haven't been able to, or won't be able to do the same this year."

Utah Food Bank Executive Director Jim Pugh said, "We're seeing an increased need across all of the state in our pantries right now. Most of our pantries are seeing a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of people that are requesting food assistance."

Pugh says they have 19 million pounds of food stored on their shelves, one million pounds more than they had last year. However, it's still not enough to meet the higher demand.

"We've started to deplete our resources in our warehouse and I think, if this trend continues over the next two to three months, we'll be giving out less per person," he said.

Pugh says fuel costs are hurting their day-to-day operations.

"We're running five semi trucks and nine box trucks out on a daily basis. It's a huge increase in our costs to do that," he said.

Pugh says they've also seen a dramatic price increase in plastic bags and shrink wrap.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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