Food drives help hundreds of Midvale residentsJul 13, 2020 12:35PM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart
Volunteers from Utah Disaster Kleenup drop off donations at the Feeding Midvale food/commodity drive on May 9. (Photo courtesy Utah Disaster Kleenup)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
Hard-to-find items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies are slowly reappearing on grocery store shelves. But what about households that can’t afford to buy them?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is available for people experiencing financial hardship. However, common household items, such as cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and pet food are not eligible through this program.
“A lot of people approached me for help,” said Annette Miller, cofounder and director of UnityintheCommUnity, a Midvale-based nonprofit. “So I thought let’s have a food drive and try to provide things they cannot purchase with food stamps.”
With help from Mayor Robert Hale, Midvale City and Utah Community Action, Miller connected with churches and top corporations in Midvale to gather money, donations and volunteers.
The first food/commodities drive took place at 97 W. 7500 South on May 9.
“People really came out of the woodwork to help support us,” Miller said. “They really rallied around the Midvale citizens. The state was in red (high risk phase of the coronavirus outbreak) that first Saturday, and we received $3,400 from people who drove over and handed us checks.”
In addition to cash, people from Midvale and surrounding communities dropped off food, toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
“We held it at the stake center because it’s big,” Miller said. “The stake president helped with parking, and all social distance guidelines were followed.”
Volunteers processed and organized the donations, and on May 16 Midvale residents were invited to the same location to pick out the items they needed.
“We used a model from New York where people come and ‘shop,’” Miller said. “They can go down the aisles and choose the items they want, rather than taking home boxes of preselected items.”
Approximately 200 individuals and families participated in the distribution day on May 16. They were then eligible to receive additional fresh food items from the Copperview Food & Resource Center, which is operated by Utah Community Action at 8446 S. Harrison St.
By the end of the distribution day, the room once filled with donated items was empty.
As they left, participants took a survey asking what items they would appreciate at the next distribution day. The food drive organizers responded by working to collect different items in June, specifically snack items for kids like string cheese, yogurt, fig bars and graham crackers in addition to items like diapers and cleaning supplies.
Miller noted that Utah Disaster Kleenup and the Wat Munisrirattanir Buddhist temple on 80th South have been particularly generous.
“Two families from Nepal brought in $200 worth of donated Asian food, and those items were snapped up quickly,” Miller said.
UnityintheCommUnity normally provides free math, English, Spanish and citizenship prep courses at locations in Midvale and Taylorsville. The need for social distancing has temporarily halted classes. UnityintheCommUnity has 195 students, many without reliable access to internet.
“We aren’t able to coordinate classes online, but we’re still helping with finding jobs and food,” Miller said. “Many people lost jobs temporarily. So we’re providing resources, including the food drives to keep families afloat.”
A third food/commodities drive and distribution day are pending. If organizers are able to gather enough resources, the events will be held the second and third Saturdays in July.
For more information visit UnityintheCommUnity’s Facebook page or email [email protected].
“The goal is to get help and cooperation from residents,” Miller said. “As members of a community we should help each other.”