Utah Food Bank rescues groceries, feeds the needy

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SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Food Bank provides millions of meals to the hungry in Utah, and they’ve developed some innovative programs to help gather enough food.

The grocery rescue program helps a lot when it comes to feeding those in need, but food bank officials said they still need donations from the public.

The organization accepts food and even cash donations, which is used to buy food or fuel for the trucks that deliver it. Donations are being accepted at all Cyprus Credit Union locations in the month of September.

Mike Wasson helps the Utah Food Bank with its grocery rescue program, and sometimes he visits a dozen stores in a single day.

“We start at four o'clock in the morning,” he said. “We actually go out and try and salvage however much food we can from different grocery stores that participate in this program.”

Ginette Bott, Utah Food Bank chief marketing officer, said the program works six days out of the week.

“Monday through Saturday we have trucks going out every day, and they make over 200 stops,” she said. “And they're picking up from the grocery stores, product that's ready to expire, produce that won’t last through the weekend.”

Bott said the program relies on a quick turn-around, as some of the food doesn’t have much time left before it goes bad.

“We take that to a location that can serve the food that day,” she said. “So it might go directly from Harmon's to St. Vincent DePaul and be served that night at the soup kitchen.”

Bott said the program takes in a lot of food.

“We get about a million pounds a month from grocery stores across the state,” she said.

And Wasson said it’s a rewarding experience.

“At first it was just a job, and then, as I'd start seeing people at the pantries, a lot of them would start thanking me for what I was doing and I really started to realize how much that impacts people,” he said. “One day I even found a friend going to the food pantries to pick up a food order, and it really struck home exactly what I’m doing.”

Click here for more information on the ways you can help the Utah Food Bank.