I’ve always heard conflicting things about food drives: That the type of food people donate isn’t really the kind that people need, that giving people food just exacerbates the problem instead of helping it, etc. Yet at the same time, I really like the idea of helping people in my own community by donating to a food drive. To help separate the truth from the fiction, I thought I’d share a few things I learned about our local food bank, Community Action Services, as I did a little research while I was planning Provo City Library’s own food drive, which is going on now in conjunction with our Summer Reading Program.
14 percent of Utah County lives in poverty. That means more than 72,000 of our neighbors and friends are severely struggling to make ends meet. To give you an idea of what that looks like, according to the Federal Poverty Guidelines, a family of four is living off less than $24,000 per year.
In 2016, Community Action Services boasted the following numbers:
- 6,499 families served
- 32,000+ volunteer hours
- 4 million+ lbs of food distributed
- Food provided for dozens of partner agencies through Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties.
Community Action Services also has a wide range of programs aimed at helping people work their way out of poverty. Examples of programs they have can be found here.
The Grocery Rescue program supplements the canned goods people donate with fresh foods, so my concern about people not getting the right types of food has a solution.
The food bank accepts expired foods! That is, as long as the can isn’t more than 4 years past the expiration date. For example, in 2017 they will accept donations with expiration dates through 2013. Most cans are still good long after their suggested expiration date. Watch out for signs that the can has really expired. If the can is oozing, bulging, or missing its label, just throw it away.
I like that whatever I donate goes to people in my community. And I like that Community Action Services is working to help people out of poverty as well.
As mentioned earlier, in the spirit of our summer reading theme of Build a Better World, the Provo City Library is hosting a food drive in partnership with Community Action Services and Food Bank of Provo. The food drive is going from June 3rd to July 29th. If you would like to help with our summer reading food drive, suggested donations should be non-perishable items like the following:
- Wet Goods- Condiments, Peanut Butter, Jelly, Syrups, etc. (Anything that isn't boxed or canned)
- Canned Meat- Tuna, Chicken, Beef, etc.
- Canned Fruit- Mandarin Oranges, Peaches, Pears, etc.
- Soups and Stew
- Baking goods like Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda, etc.
- Items for Kids’ Nutrition Packs (Granola Bars, Natural Juice Boxes, Apple Sauce, Raisins, Peanut Butter Crackers, Easy Mac, etc.)
- Disposable Diapers (Ages 3-5)
- Cleaning Supplies
- Toilet Paper
- Feminine Hygiene Products (Tampons, Pads, Panty Liners)
- Bar Soap
- Laundry Soap
Of course, because we’re doing this as part of summer reading, each week you donate items to the food drive, you can collect a summer reading code. This leads to badges and contributes to the number of tickets you can enter in the drawing at the end of summer reading for a bunch of prizes, including a $100 MasterCard gift card! So come help us Build a Better World by participating in our summer reading food drive!