In Utah, 102,000 families can’t buy enough food due to a lack of funds and resources. Further, one in 10 families encounters food insecurity—which the USDA defines as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Food insecurity is devastating for individuals, families, and organizations.

Luckily, Community Action Service and Food Bank (CASFB) is determined to alleviate this challenge for members of our communities. CASFB achieves this by being both a food bank and a food pantry. Let’s walk through the difference between food banks and food pantries and how CASFB serves the local community in both aspects.

What’s the Difference between a Food Pantry and a Food Bank?

Though food banks and food pantries have the same goal, they accomplish it differently. Food banks support larger organizations, like schools, and accept food donations in bulk. Food pantries, on the other hand, provide food for individuals and families, can prepare specific meals for certain families, and accept food in any quantity.

Despite these differences, both work together to feed the community. The relationship can be compared to that between a food wholesaler and grocery stores; The food wholesaler stores the food in bulk (this is comparable to a food bank) and distributes the food to local grocery stores (this is a food pantry) to which people have easy access. Both are necessary, and both serve the local community, but there are some subtle and important differences between the two. Let’s talk a little bit more about how CASFB functions in both capacities.

How Does Community Action Services Function as a Food Bank?

The words food bank are a part of CASFB’s organizational name, and for good reason: the organization has relied on its food bank to store the majority of donations it receives. For example, CASFB received 3.7 million pounds of food in 2022, which it stored in the warehouse, thus serving as a food bank. Donations for the food bank have come from individuals, groups, schools, organizations, and grocery stores and have ranged from flashlights to coats, canned beans, feminine hygiene products, and diapers.

The ability to accept large donations and store them on site has allowed CASFB to send food throughout the local communities, including Heber, Orem, Springville, and more. In 2020 alone, CASFB provided 40,832 Kid-packs filled with easy to prepare foods to children in elementary schools to bring home for the weekend.

Accepting and distributing donations is a vital part of how CASFB helps individuals and households combat food insecurity.

How Does Community Action Services Function as a Food Pantry?

CASFB’s food pantries are also essential in assisting those facing food insecurity within the community, but they function in a slightly different way.

When individuals or families come to one of the pantries, supportive staff helps the guest ‘shop’ from the pantry. This particular approach allows guests to buy items they truly need with the budget the staff provides them. Other complementary programs at the pantry level help guests develop money-management skills, which assists with creating self-reliance.

Additionally, CASFB has partnered with various partner pantries so clients can access multiple pantries instead of only one. Pantries work together to ensure the needs of their community members are being met, and food can be moved from one pantry to another to help with low food donations, receiving specific donations, etc. CASFB’s donations are also distributed to their various food pantries.

Through its own and partner pantries, CASFB can meet individuals in need in the locations where they reside. It also gives guests a chance to shop as they would at any other outlet. Without donations in the form of canned goods and monetary donations, CASFB can’t continue to serve families in need.

CASFB currently offers the following pantry locations to serve our local communities; please visit our website for each pantry’s different business hours:

  • Coalville (17 S Main St)
  • Heber (34 W 200 S)
  • Springville (105 S 400 E, Springville)
  • Oakley (960 W Center St)
  • Orem (93 N 400 E)

In addition, CASFB collaborates with 14 partner pantries providing them with food, extra equipment, kits, and more. We also work with 75 local partners to provide kid packs, senior packs, and other needs to help eliminate food insecurity within the community.

How Can I Donate to the CASFB Food Bank or Pantry?

There are multiple ways to help and support CASFB’s food bank and pantries. One option is to donate food and other products from the most needed items list. These donations can be received at any of CASFB’s six locations during business hours or dropped off after hours in a chute at the Provo warehouse location.

For a more hands-on approach, CASFB welcomes members of the community to volunteer in the food pantry, which is essential for this program to run. Scheduling a volunteer slot ahead of time is recommended for larger groups, while individuals are welcome as walk-in volunteers. (Please contact CASFB to learn about open slots and if you’re old enough to participate.)

CASFB also encourages financial donations, which can go a long way to helping families in need. However you choose to participate, CASFB would be honored and happy to have your help as we all work together as a community to solve food insecurity.

Who Qualifies to Shop at the CASFB Food Pantry?

Do you know someone who is facing food insecurity? Encourage them to fill out a form and create a guest profile on the CASFB website, which could help CASFB better serve them and help them get access to other programs and support services. Any information clients share will be respected, kept confidential, and shared only if the client provides permission. Clients are contacted after three business days to inform them of their qualification status. They will quality to shop at the CASFB pantries if their household is 185% of the Federal Poverty. If you have any questions, you can reach CASFB at (801) 373-8200. You can also pick up this form at a local food pantry.

While food banks and food pantries function in slightly different ways, both of these approaches work together in fighting hunger, which is a key initiative at CASFB. Our goal is to help individuals and families in Utah overcome food insecurity. In order to do so, we need your help! Learn more about CASFB’s programs and get involved. Drop off a donation at the food bank, volunteer your time, host a food drive, or make a financial donation. The more people who donate, the more individuals we can help. Whatever you choose to do, working together with CASFB is part of the solution to food insecurity.