Utah Food Bank southern distribution center expands as need increases
Ginette Bott, president and CEO of the Utah Food Bank, noted the Southern Distribution Center opened in 2011 but the state's dynamics and population have evolved since then. Changing economic outlooks in places like Beaver County could result in higher need for food assistance. Bott said the center will serve Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, San Juan and Washington counties.
"Its footprint, its ability to store fresh food, have more volunteers -- all of the things we need to be able to serve Southern Utah better -- will come alongside with the expansion of this building," Bott explained. "We're so pleased and so excited to see it happen."
Bott pointed out it is part of overall expansion plans for the food bank. In addition to the St. George location, the organization is working to build two other distribution centers; in Blanding, in San Juan County, and Springville, in Utah County.
Bott reported the Southern Distribution Center sends food to 43 local food pantries, that pass it along to 31,000 Utahns who face food insecurity. It is an area where one in six kids is unsure where their next meal will come from. Coming just as extra federal pandemic food benefits end, Bott sees the expansion as a crucial piece to keep fighting hunger in the Beehive State.
"This is only good news for those who are in that situation, to be able to have a bigger, broader range of inventory," Bott observed. "This is going to be a 'win-win' for the folks of Southern Utah," said Bott.
The expansion includes more warehouse storage space and a walk-in refrigerator. Bott added Utah Food Bank must track and adapt to the changes the state undergoes. She encouraged people to continue volunteering and donating when they can.