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Davis Journal

New Bountiful Food Pantry bus rolls out

Sep 30, 2022 11:05AM ● By Tom Haraldsen

The Bountiful Food Pantry’s bus takes perishable and non-perishable items to locations in Davis County, as part of a new service from the Pantry. Photo by Tom Haraldsen

Food insecurity is a national crisis, so bad in fact that the director of the nation’s largest network of food banks, Feeding America, recently told the New York Times that pantries “are in the middle of a battle, and people are leaving the field.” Claire Babineaux-Fontenot added that when she walks into food banks, “freezers don’t have very much food in them.”

It’s a problem close to home, many homes, right here in Davis County. Rebekah Anderson, executive director of the Bountiful Food Pantry, said client requests for food have risen more than 70 percent year to year, as inflation and employment issues have led to more demand. It’s particularly a problem for families who don’t live close to, or have access to, pantries.

So Anderson and her team at BFP have done something about it. This month, their new pantry bus began rolling out to different locations in the county where local food banks don’t operate. Her goal is to have the bus run on a 10 location schedule, visiting stops every other week. “Clients will know it’s going to be there and know they can feed their family.”

She was at a meeting a few months ago with local leaders, and one asked her “what was my absolute pie in the sky idea. I said I wanted a bus that could take perishable food out to smaller communities that don’t have easy access to a pantry. A gentleman from Davis Behavioral Health came over and said, ‘We might have a bus.’”

Two months later, they donated the bus to the pantry. With the help of other financial donations, they retrofitted the bus with shelves, a refrigerator and freezer, and a generator to enable the delivery of perishable foods. 

“We try to stock a variety of things that you’d find in a grocery store,” Anderson said. “We have frozen meats, milk, yogurt, a variety of dairy items, lettuce, cheese, all those things that are perishable. The only way we are able to get these out is with a fridge and freezer.”

The bus also comes stocked with dry goods – cookies, baked goods, desserts. It has hygiene kits, dog and cat food, canned vegetables, canned fruit, and other things that can be found in traditional mobile pantries, which BCP still operates regularly. The box trucks that the pantry operates, which are filled with 5-8,000 pounds of non-perishable items, can feed 70 people in 90 minutes, Anderson said. The bus is designed “more about selection and a standardized food source for smaller groups of people,” she said. “Ideally, we’ll probably feed 15 to 20 families each time we do one.”

Pantry staff is still formulating a schedule for where the bus will travel on its regular routes. Anderson said anyone who wishes to make a suggestion for a stop can call the Pantry at 801-299-8464.

“My goal is to get this bus out every day, creating that 10 location route on an every other week basis,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring more food to more people.” λ