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The City Journals

Utah Food Bank grant allows Taylorsville pantry operators to purchase two much-needed meat freezers

Feb 10, 2021 02:37PM ● By Carl Fauver

Two new freezers at the Taylorsville Food Pantry are used primarily to keep meat products fresh. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

At a cost of more than $3,300 each, two large, brand new, stainless steel freezers are now keeping meat fresh at the Taylorsville Food Pantry, thanks to a grant from the Utah Food Pantry. And local pantry operators say the grant could not have come at a better time, because a paperwork misstep prevented them from receiving their customary Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding last year.

“Our annual operating budget is $18,000 to $22,000 per year, with about $15,000 coming through CDBG funding,” said food pantry board member Morris Pratt. “The CDBG money is approved by the Taylorsville City Council each year and they have never turned our request down. But, last year, we had a paperwork snafu and didn’t get our grant request processed in time. So, the $7,500 grant from the Utah Food Bank came at the perfect time.”

A decade ago, Pratt was a Taylorsville City Councilman himself. Now he’s president of Tri-Park Services, the entity that operates the Taylorsville Food Pantry (4775 South Plymouth View Drive, near 1600 West) as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. His only two paid, part time pantry employees are the mother and daughter team of Warehouse Manager Sue Lane and Eligibility Manager Tiffany Diaz. But they certainly don’t operate the pantry alone.

“I have about 15 consistent volunteers and they are amazing,” Lane said. “Lots of people try volunteering once, but don’t return. Those who do are a great help. We couldn’t run the pantry without them.”

The Taylorsville Food Pantry serves about 1,200 people per month. Diaz says COVID-19 has increased demand—but not as dramatically as they had feared.

“We have been getting about eight to 10 new families signing up for food donations each month, since the pandemic hit,” she said. “We also receive a number of calls from people who don’t live in Taylorsville. I refer them elsewhere, because the city requires us to only serve Taylorsville residents at this pantry.” 

As eligibility manager, Diaz requires people to prove they are Taylorsville residents by presenting mail they’ve received at a city address. Recipients must also meet income guidelines. Eligibility requirement details are available at taylorsvillefoodpantry.org.

At the current time, Sue Lane and Tiffany Diaz aren’t the only mother-daughter combination keeping the Taylorsville Food Pantry up and running. Trina and Adreana Hall have been driving to the pantry regularly this winter, from Herriman, to volunteer their time.

“Adreana is in ninth grade and she and I have been volunteering at the pantry since November,” Trina Hall said. “We are both going on a humanitarian trip to Thailand in June. To be eligible to go, we are required to perform volunteer hours in the community. But I have enjoyed it so much, I plan to continue volunteering beyond the required hours. It has been a rewarding experience. (The food pantry) is a good place to reflect on my own blessings.”

The Halls will make their 8,100-mile trip to Thailand through the Salt Lake-based humanitarian organization Youthlinc (youthlinc.org). Trina says they are scheduled to help teach English to low-income people there. To be eligible to make the trip, Youthlinc requires participants to complete 50 hours of volunteer service here. 

Taylorsville Food Pantry officials say, this winter has been one of their best seasons ever for receiving donations.

“We had one man come in about every two weeks, over a two-month period, to give us envelopes containing $100 bills,” Lane said. “I asked him if he wanted a receipt, but he never did. He would also never give us his name; but he looked a lot like Santa Claus.”

Overall, Lane says holiday season food pantry donations approached $10,000 this year. 

Food drop offs also increased, as church groups and Eagle Scout candidates coordinated donation drives. The Taylorsville Youth Council chipped in as well. Mayor Kristie Overson works closely with them.

“Because of the pandemic, our youth council skipped their traditional Sub-for-Santa charity program (last) year, and instead went around their neighborhoods gathering food for the pantry,” the Mayor said. “The food pantry has been amazing during this pandemic, distributing food. They are a CDBG group we are always happy to support.”

Taylorsville City does not directly provide funding to the food pantry. However, the city does provide the building and pays the utilities.

The Taylorsville Food Pantry is open Mondays 1-3 p.m., Wednesdays 4-6 p.m. and Saturdays 10-12 a.m.