Pantry helps more than 1,000 kids have a Merry ChristmasJan 20, 2023 11:00AM ● By Becky Ginos
Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver gifts to a family they sponsored. Donors ‘adopted’ children through the pantry and purchased presents for them. Photo courtesy of the Bountiful Food Pantry.
BOUNTIFUL—Christmas morning every child waits with anticipation to see what’s under the tree. Unfortunately, for some kids there’s not much there. However, the Bountiful Food Pantry was able to make Christmas a little brighter for more than 1,000 kids through its Sub for Santa program.
“It was amazing,” said Executive Director, Rebekah Anderson. “Prior to COVID it was 700. It’s gone up significantly. We had 243 people who adopted kids and got presents for them. It’s exciting.”
Anderson said for families with a lot of kids they partnered with a business. “We don’t want it to be taxing on a family.”
The Salvation Army closes for two months to run their Sub for Santa, she said. “The pantry doesn’t have the space for the gifts so we make the list and vet that the applicants are low income and need help then one of the ‘Santas’ buys gifts for the kids and delivers them to the family.”
It’s a lot of work, said Anderson. “It takes a lot of time but we don’t sacrifice what the pantry does here for people who need to eat. We’ve partnered with Head Start. They basically know a whole bunch of kids that have a need. They’re really good partners.”
It’s worth it to make sure kids get help, she said. “All over the need is growing. It’s up 18%. I’m not surprised.”
Social services are changing too, Anderson said. “SNAP was paying the maximum amount during COVID but at the end of February it will go back to normal. Clients could lose $175 to $200 a month. They’re also going to stop rent relief. If they were receiving all of that and then it stops they could be in trouble.”
Inflation continues to rise and rise and rise, she said. “I’m sure we’ll have more families next Christmas and see a lot more people coming through our doors.”
Just on site the pantry has served 5,600 individuals this year, said Anderson. “We’ve also sent some to other organizations. We’ve served 111% more people than December 2021 and in November even more – 177% more than November 2021.”
Every single pantry has seen clients who have never needed help before, she said. “The need is going to grow until the economy stabilizes and it doesn't look like that’s going to happen.”
The pantry counts on upcoming food drives to bolster its supply, said Anderson. “Scouting for Food is Feb. 11 where scouts collect food at grocery stores. Save Utah is March 18. That’s huge for us. It helps carry us through to Christmas. Those are really big days for us.”
They can also use financial donations, she said. “We can use the money to buy diapers and other essential items and buy what we need at any particular time.”
Anderson said they’re blessed at the pantry. “We’ve fed everybody that needs it. We haven’t had to cut back on any services. The community has been absolutely spectacular. We would have had to cut back on services the need is so great.”