At Community Action Services and Food Bank, we’re all about food and yet so much more. In 2021, we distributed more than 2,867,594 meals to people in need. We also helped thousands of people in Utah, Summit, and Wasatch counties through our programs and services.
In 2021, four people graduated from our Circles initiative, which means they’re earning 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. We also had 38 people participating in the program. Two hundred and forty-one households created a sustainable budget in our program, and 175 households attended our Homebuyer Education courses. We sent 23,305 packs of food home with elementary children every Friday, ensuring they had food to eat over the weekend. Sixty-three people grew their own produce in our community gardens, eight food startups used our commercial kitchen, and we made 1,634 rent and 205 utility payments for people who needed emergency help.
Our mission at Community Action Services and Food Bank is to foster self-reliance in families, individuals, and the community. We do that through our food pantries and our many programs and services. Keep reading to learn more about how we’re accomplishing our mission.
Our Circles Initiative is committed to helping people pull themselves out of poverty, which is essential for self-reliance. The participants, called leaders, commit to working toward their goals for at least 18 months. We connect them with allies who’ve completed Bridges Out of Poverty, a program that helps them better understand economic class differences. The allies help guide them toward reaching their objectives, including learning new job skills, getting an education, finding better jobs, and getting off public assistance. Groups of Circle Leaders and allies meet weekly. Leaders graduate when their income is at least 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
We also have a new fast-forward program aimed at helping people reach financial stability faster. Through eight biweekly classes, participants will learn how to create a resume, manage finances, set boundaries, set goals, get away from the drama triangle, and more. All participants will have an ally and a coach to help them through the process. We hold classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and include a light breakfast. Anyone who completes the program gets $250. Email JulieS@CommunityActionUC.org to sign up.
Financial Literacy and Homebuyer Education
Financial learning, including knowledge of the homebuying process, helps build a robust and resilient community.
Our Financial Learning Center offers one-on-one counseling in English and Spanish about credit scores, budgeting, saving, and debt management. We have times open for counseling Monday through Friday, as well as classes on the third Saturday of the month. To register, call (801) 691-5241 or email email@example.com.
Our homebuyer education courses teach participants about aspects of purchasing a home, including managing money, qualifying for a mortgage, financing a home, applying for a loan, and closing on a mortgage. We teach the course in a two-class series or one longer session every month and classes are taught by HUD certified housing counselors. All classes and registration information are on our website.
We understand sometimes people get into situations where they need emergency help with rent, utilities, supplies, or somewhere to stay for the night before they can start building their self-reliance. That’s where our emergency services come in.
Depending on eligibility, we offer vouchers for short stays at area motels, so a family or individual has time to find somewhere stable to live. . We also have funds for rent assistance, rent arrears payments, and utility arrears help. In addition, we stock kits with essential supplies like hygiene products.
We offer free education classes, including cooking classes, to teach life skills that help foster self-reliance.
Every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m., we teach life skills, meditation, and other self-care techniques. For example, July topics included mindfulness, parenting emotionally smart children, speaker-listener technique, and thinking errors. All classes are at our Provo location, 815 S. Freedom Blvd. If you have questions, email HelenC@CommunityActionUC.org.
We also host a free cooking class on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. at our Provo location. In July, participants learned how to make creamy pesto chicken skillet, chicken kebabs, stuffed peppers, and a sausage and veggie sheet pan bake. If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We believe that small businesses are essential to the community and help build self-reliance. That’s why we have a low-cost commercial kitchen to help food startups get off the ground.
Called The Potluck, the kitchen is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It includes appliances, ovens, stoves, utensils, and other supplies. While anyone can apply to use the kitchen, low-income entrepreneurs get priority as well as lower rent. The cost to use the kitchen starts at $5 per hour for people whose income is 50 percent or less than our guidelines. The most anyone pays is $80 per hour. We don’t allow businesses to serve food directly from the kitchen and can’t accommodate food trucks.
Successful businesses that have come out of The Potluck include Chip Cookies and Time Traveler’s Bakery.
Growing your own food is a hallmark of self-reliance. We have 66 garden plots available to rent around Provo and hope to grow the program to include more spaces in the future.
We charge $20 per plot for the entire season. That price includes tools, seeds, and water.
Every week, we send packs of food to elementary schools in Utah, Wasatch, and Summit counties. The schools give the packs to low-income children, ensuring they have food to eat over the weekend.
Each pack includes an entree, juice, a granola bar, crackers, dried fruit, a fruit pouch, and fruit snacks.
At Community Action Services and Food Bank, we aim to build self-reliance in individuals, families, and our community. Our many programs and services—Circles, financial learning, homebuyer education, emergency services, education courses, The Potluck, our gardens, and the backpack program for kids—help us accomplish that mission one person at a time.
If you’re interested in volunteer opportunities in Utah County or one of the counties we serve at Community Action Services and Food Bank, check out our website to see what’s available and sign up.