Christian Center and Jewish Family Service increase food pantry and other services for residents reeling from COVID-19 crisis
With uncertainty surrounding the length of time the public will be required to self-quarantine due to COVID-19, local non-denominational food banks run by the Christian Center of Park City and Jewish Family Service have stepped up their game.
This past week the Christian Center of Park City’s food banks in Park City and Heber served 2,001 individuals and 62 cats and dogs, according to Executive Director Rob Harter.
Likewise, Jewish Family Services, which has headquarter offices in Park City, has seen a steady increase in the families that have needed to use its food pantry in Salt Lake City, according to Executive Director Ellen Silver.
Providing cat and dog food has been made easier for the Christian Center of Park City through a partnership with The Barking Cat, a pet supply store at Kimball Junction, Harter said.
“We have been giving out dog and cat food that people have donated to The Barking Cat,” Harter said during an interview Monday morning. “When people come through the food bank, we ask how many adults, how many kids and if they have cats or dogs.”
While 61 furry friends is a significant number to serve, the 2,001 individuals who used the food banks work out to total 553 households, Harter said.
“We want to tell people if they need food to, please, come get it,” he said. “We invite people to honor social distancing rules and sign up online and schedule a time to pick up some food in a drive-through system. We’ll load up the food and put it in the car so they can be on their way.”
The food pantries’ supplies come from a variety of sources, including local restaurants and grocery stores, according to Harter.
“We’re still getting a few items from the restaurants, and those that are located at the ski resorts, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley, have pretty much donated all they can,” Harter said.
Local grocery stores, however, have had to cut back on their surplus donations due to their customers’ demands in the past couple of weeks, he said.
“The grocery stores are almost back to normal in terms of the food they can donate to us, but they are still pressured and getting cleaned out,” he said. “It’s better than a week ago.”
To help supplement the food banks, the Christian Center of Park City relies on donations from the public to buy food from providers such as Nicholas and Company, an independent food distributor from Salt Lake City that fulfills many local restaurants’ needs, Harter said.
“They give us a nice, wholesale bulk price, so we can maximize our dollars when we make purchases,” he said. “They’ve been great to work with.”
In addition to fresh vegetables, Harter and his staff have ordered a lot of meat, mostly chicken and beef.
“What we do is look and see what the grocery stores can supply and look to see what we’re low on,” Harter said. “Then we’ll fill in those blanks with our orders.”
The Christian Center isn’t currently allowed to accept food donations from residents because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home rules, he said.
“Until that’s lifted, we are asking for donations of money so we can order food and supplies,” Harter said.
The easiest way is to visit the website ccofpc.org and click on the “Donate Now” button, and that will give donors a view of the different programs they may want their money to help.
“In addition to food, we have need for other items like diapers, toilet paper and feminine hygiene products,” he said.
Other monetary donations can help the Christian Center’s Basic Needs Assistance program that covers portions of rent, utility bills or other important needs, Harter said.
“Normally, we would have 15 or 20 households sign up, but since Friday, March 227, more than 450 families applied for this assistance,” he said. “Our range of assistance was between $400 to $500 per household, and, if you do the quick math, that’s between $180,000 to $200,000 that we need to do for one month. If this extends longer, which we hope it doesn’t, people will have backed-up rent.”
Harter said he has been humbled by the outpouring of help and concern from the local community.
“We’ve had people give $25 to $2,500 to $25,000,” he said. “We’ve also had many people call to ask if they could volunteer, and while we would love the help, we are still not allowed to bring more people in due to the restrictions. But once that order is lifted, we would love to sign people up.”
For information about Christian Center of Park City’s food pantry and other services, visit ccofpc.org.
Jewish Family Service
While Ellen Silver doesn’t have a definite number for how many people have used the Jewish Family Service food pantry that relocated from the Brickyard Plaza to 495 E. 4500 South in Salt Lake City, she did say the line has been has nonstop.
“Our new landlords are being great and allowing us to set up in the parking lot so we can resume our grab-and-go bags,” Silver said.
The food bank is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and people can drive their cars right up to a table set up in the parking lot, according to Silver.
“We’ll ask how many people are in the family,” she said. “We’ll then give them some food and they will be able to just drive away.”
The food pantry currently is offering canned and other non-perishable foods, but starting next Monday, Jewish Family Service will start receiving food from the Bishop’s Storehouse, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Silver said.
“They provide us with fresh foods like milk, eggs, cheese and meats,” she said. “So we’re looking forward to working with them again.”
Like the Christian Center of Park City, Jewish Family Service can’t accept food donations from the general public, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s still not the safe thing to do, so we’re asking folks who usually want to donate food to consider a monetary donation so we can use it to buy food, or use it for any of our services,” Silver said.
The best way to donate is online at jfsutah.org.
“They can click the “Support” links and designate where they want their money to go,” she said.
Donors can also send checks to Jewish Family Service at 1960 Sidewinder Drive in Park City or 495 E. 4500 South in Salt Lake City.
“Whatever people can donate will help us, because all our safety-net programs, including the food pantry and our emergency assistance fund, will see an increase of demand,” Silver said. “These programs have always been for families and individuals who are living paycheck to paycheck, and one little extraordinary expense, like having to replace tires after a flat, can throw their budgets off. And I think now we’re going to start serving families who have experienced unemployment because of COVID-19.”
For information about Jewish Family Services food pantry and other services, visit jfsutah.org.
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