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Answering concerns about Utah food insecurity

When it comes to the many challenges that the most vulnerable Utahns residents face, among the most acute is food insecurity. It may seem unthinkable that a family could not afford to have adequate food to feed everyone living under their roof, but it’s a very real problem in Utah.

A recent report by the state’s Food Security Task Force found that one in 10 homes face food insecurity. That adds up to more than 102,000 families without the resources to provide enough food for their families.

We’ve made it one of our community missions to help with this problem. Our goal with charitable giving this past year was to do our best to help eliminate food security throughout our communities. It’s part of our commitment to provide much more than banking services to our communities in the Beehive State.

More on food security concerns in Utah

The aforementioned task force was formed through the state legislature and is made up of community leaders who are working to find solutions to food insecurity. In its report that was released in November, it notes that several vulnerable populations are affected: children, seniors, single-parent households, people of color and those with disabilities.

There were several specific suggestions from the report to help answer the food insecurity concerns. Among these are:

  • Eliminating Utah’s sales tax on food
  • More money for the state’s emergency food assistance funds (currently at about $1.3 million)
  • More affordable housing
  • Wage increases for vulnerable workers

The elimination of the sales tax is also requested by the state’s Coalition of Religious Communities. Utah is just one of 13 states that has a food tax, according to the advocacy group Utahns Against Hunger. Some state legislators are also on board to sponsor a food-tax elimination bill when the legislature meets again in 2022.

“This impacts those at the lower end of our socioeconomic spectrum, our brothers and sisters of the senior citizen community and working families more broadly,” says state Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City. “It’s time to eliminate the food tax right now.”

How First Utah Bank is helping out

Until those solutions come to pass, it’s up to local leaders and businesses to step up and try to meet the needs of our residents who are struggling. It’s something we also take very seriously with the First Utah Bank’s Charitable Giving Committee. Beginning in 2020 and including top banking leaders, it was formed to focus on community needs — specifically on food insecurity in Utah communities.

This year, the committee made $160,000 in donations to community groups that are helping to address hunger. Among the groups that have received funds from First Utah Bank’s giving committee are these specific ones that provide services for food insecurity:

  • Comunidades Unidas/Communities United Latinx Food Program
  • Crossroads Urban Center
  • For the Kids Organization
  • Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank
  • Neighborhood House
  • Nourish to Flourish
  • Tabitha’s Food Pantry North
  • Usana “Kids Eat’ Backpack Program
  • Utah Food Bank Mobile Pantry

One example, in particular, that is a strong reminder of this need is our support of Neighborhood House. The $10,000 donation through the committee equates to 5,000 meals served to community members. We’re also very proud of what Nourish to Flourish does, providing the use of local chefs to donate charitable meals to those in need.

We’re also pleased to give to Taylorsville Elementary’s “Kids Eat’ program through Usana. It’s having a great effect, as 77% of students, there are utilizing either the free or reduced lunch program. In addition, 56% of those who use the program as classified as being food insufficient in their homes.

Along with those we’ve listed above, we also supported these amazing groups in Utah that are truly transforming lives in our communities:

  • Asian Association of Utah’s Refugee and Immigrant Center
  • AAU’s Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah
  • Guadalupe School: Summer Preschool and Early Learning Center
  • International Rescue Committee’s Welcome Home Fund for Afghan refugees
  • Maliheh Free Clinic
  • ShelterKids
  • YouthLinc

A part of Utah communities for decades

The work we are doing with our Charitable Giving Community is part of what we’ve done for more than 40 years. We first opened our doors in 1978, and since that time we’ve been keenly focused on meeting the community’s societal needs as well as answering its financial questions with great solutions.

First Utah Bank is a true “community bank,” which means that we’re locally owned and operated. We provide timely local decision-making, customized customer solutions, and customer access to the top decision-makers in our bank. It also means that we work hard to improve the communities we serve.

Besides the work we do through the Charitable Giving Committee, our branches participate in food drives, fundraising efforts and other community projects. We encourage our employees to volunteer at non-profit organizations. We provide businesses with guest speakers. We stay active in helping organizations that protect children and help the abused and neglected find housing.

This is important to us because we’re all a part of communities in Utah. Your needs are important, and serving you helps secure a strong and vital community for all of us. Learn more about what we can do to help your business here: