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Donations, Support From Restaurants, Stores Helps Food Pantry Continue Services During Pandemic

Like many non-profits, the Cache Community Food Pantry saw an increase of people seeking services after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Since 1970, the Cache Community Food Pantry has worked to reduce the number of people in Cache Valley who go to bed hungry. Matt Whitaker is the pantry’s director and said these efforts continued last year, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.

“We lost the volunteers we had because Most of them were elderly and did not want to leave the house. The method of assisting people also had to change; before, they could go through the store and take out the food they wanted, but with COVID-19 you had to wait outside, and we would load a cart with food and bring it outside. Now, in July, we want to go back to what we did before where people can come in and choose what they want to take,” Whitaker said.

Once COVID hit, the number of people who needed the help of the food bank increased substantially.

“It increased a lot, especially those who work in entertainment services, and restaurants as well," Whitaker said. "There were a lot of people who were not used to asking for groceries at a food bank."

Despite this increase in assistance of food from people in the community, the food pantry has been able to keep up thanks to private donors and donations made from grocery stores and restaurants in Cache Valley.

“The people who live here in Cache Valley are very attentive to our needs and we have enough [food]. We get food, apart from the stores that are here in Cache Valley, from all the stores: Smith's Marketplace, Walmart, Sam's Club, Macey's, Ridley's, and we still have some restaurants like Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, [Old] Grist Mill, Great Harvest [Bread Co.] — are all the stores that donate to us. La Ranchera donates many things to us as well,” Whitaker said.

With a staff of forty volunteers and two permanent employees, the Cache Community Food Pantry distributes groceries three days a week to approximately 150 families and organizations like CAPSA, Senior Centers, Bear River Mental Health, and Cache Employment and Training.  

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Manuel Giron produces news content at UPR. As a bilingual reporter, he writes stories in English and Spanish, and is involved in all steps of the reporting process from thinking of story ideas to writing the stories and preparing them for air. He is a Senior at Utah State University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Portuguese. He loves to write, read, listen to music, and swim. He is incredibly excited about working for UPR and learning about journalism in the process.