Bountiful Food Pantry reopens its ‘Market’May 12, 2022 11:01AM ● By Tom Haraldsen
In March of 2020, as the nation watched the doors of businesses close due to the outbreak of COVID-19, one local lifeline for many families had to make changes as well. That’s when the Bountiful Food Pantry shut down its Market, the area that looks and feels much like a supermarket where patrons can pick and choose their own food items.
Now, that option has returned, as staff members of the Pantry joined with some of its Board of Directors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday morning. Executive Director Rebekah Anderson said she was “immensely proud of the generous volunteers who, for the past two years, did the stocking and shopping for clients and delivered food to their vehicles” while the market was closed. “Although clients could not come into the building to pick their own items, we did not go a single day without giving food to everyone in need.”
The Market became part of the Pantry’s operation in 2015 after an extensive remodel added the space along with some much-needed offices. Jordan Gingrich, the director of services at the Pantry, recalled those early days of the pandemic.
“We had a really scary time where we had to evaluate whether we could continue to give out food and how to do it safely,” she said. “We knew our priority was to feed people, so we quickly developed a model of how we could deliver food through the back door. Those first few days of March were scary for everyone. We’re happy we could alleviate some of that fear and provide them with some of the necessities they needed. We’re so glad to finally be able to reopen our market and have clients be able to choose their food options.”
Gingrich praised the volunteers who helped make it happen, especially at a time when the number of volunteers – normally about 200 – was reduced to one-fifth that number.
“Everybody was hustling, and they did that with a smile – they were happy to help,” she said. “I’m so happy to be a part of this organization. I started as a volunteer going out on the grocery rescue trucks. That’s when I became attached to the pantry and its mission.”
Bountiful Mayor Kendalyn Harris spoke at the ceremony, saying she is very grateful for the organization.
“It’s so amazing to me to think about what you do here day in and day out,” she said. “We all have things, seen or unseen, where we need help. We live in a community where we want to help each other. That’s what the pantry does. This is such a vital part of our community. It’s a great step today that people can come in and choose for themselves.”
“The market allows people to feel a little sense of normalcy,” Anderson said. “One of the things that we offer here is not just food, its humanity. An overwhelming number of our volunteers said they’ve missed having people in the building, missed talking to our clients. They missed that interaction with people in our community.”
Anderson also thanked the many community partners, from local farmers and supermarket owners to other groups who’ve helped with programs such as the Pantry Packs that provide food for children in need. From a program that started distributing 155 packs a week in three schools, 3,100 Pantry Packs are now distributed a week to 61 schools.
“There’s no way on this green Earth that we could do any of this without our volunteers and our community partners.”
There is a food drive this Saturday (May 14) conducted with postal workers. Most homes should have had bags left on doorsteps that residents can fill with food and place back on those doorsteps. Postal workers will collect those bags on Saturday and the donated food will go to the Pantry.
The Bountiful Food Pantry is located at 480 East 150 North in Bountiful.λ