Tabitha’s Way

Build­ing a foun­da­tion for a no hunger zone

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SPAN­ISH FORK - Last year Tabitha’s Way Lo­cal Food Pantry in Span­ish Fork pro­vided tem­po­rary food as­sis­tance to ap­prox­i­mately 30,000 in­di­vid­u­als and re­dis­tributed 960,000 pounds of food equal­ing nearly 2,000,000 meals.

In early 2017, they be­gan con­struc­tion on a new fa­cil­ity in Span­ish Fork that will ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing needs of the South Utah County area. The new build­ing will have ADA ac­cess, in­clude elec­tri­cal im­prove­ments, com­mer­cial re­frig­er­a­tion and a load­ing dock.

“These up­grades are needed so we can safely pro­vide ser­vices and to give us the abil­ity to pro­vide fresh pro­duce and dairy items such as eggs, milk and cheese to fam­i­lies with chil­dren, se­niors and in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties, who do not have the means to buy enough healthy and nu­tri­tious foods,” said Wendy Os­borne, Tabitha’s Way founder.

Those in­ter­ested can fol­low the build­ing’s progress on the or­ga­ni­za­tion Face­book page, Tabitha’s Way Lo­cal Food Pantry South County.

Tabitha’s Way serves the work­ing-class poor; fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als who are go­ing through a tough time. On av­er­age, more than half of the peo­ple served each month are chil­dren.

Os­borne said, “Most of the fam­i­lies we see are fac­ing a tem­po­rary cri­sis. These tough times in­clude things like a trans­mis­sion go­ing out, can­cer or other se­ri­ous ill­ness, aban­don­ment or sud­den loss of em­ploy­ment.” How does Food In­se­cu­rity af­fect the com­mu­nity? Os­borne ex­plains it us­ing the pop­u­lar Snick­ers candy tagline that “you are not your­self when you are hungry”.

“Well, it’s true. Hunger can af­fect an adult’s abil­ity to think clearly and in­ter­act so­cially im­ped­ing their ca­pac­ity to work well. Food in­se­cu­rity (the anx­i­ety of not hav­ing enough food) af­fects a per­son emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally by el­e­vat­ing stress lev­els. Stress is linked to most ma­jor ill­nesses in­clud­ing de­pres­sion, obe­sity, heart dis­ease and di­a­betes,” she said.

Child hunger has an even more dev­as­tat­ing im­pact as it has long-term ef­fects on a child’s men­tal and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Stud­ies show that chil­dren that are food in­se­cure have trou­ble learn­ing and re­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion mak­ing it

more likely that a child will fall be­hind in school and in­creases the prob­a­bil­ity they may drop out of school, ex­pe­ri­ence early teen preg­nancy and/or be­come prone to drug ad­dic­tion and crim­i­nal be­hav­ior.

In or­der to ful­fill their mis­sion, Tabitha’s Way needs reg­u­lar vol­un­teers, spe­cific food do­na­tions at spe­cific times and fi­nan­cial do­na­tions.

It takes 75 reg­u­lar vol­un­teers to help op­er­ate the food pantry. They are look­ing for in­di­vid­u­als or groups who can com­mit to a 2-3 hour shift once ev­ery 1-2 weeks. Visit JustServe.org or email info@tabithasway.org to find out about vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties. You can do­nate at www.tabithasway.org.

Like any or­ga­ni­za­tion, they have ex­penses. These in­clude salaries, in­sur­ance, rent, equip­ment, main­te­nance, trucks and so on. Vol­un­teers and food do­na­tions have in­creased ef­fi­ciency and the food as­sis­tance they pro­vide ends up cost­ing about $.09 per meal.

As the hol­i­day months ap­proach, many groups and or­ga­ni­za­tions plan food drives. Os­born said they can make their food drive more mean­ing­ful by sched­ul­ing it and ac­cept­ing a food as­sign­ment to as­sure va­ri­ety in in­com­ing do­na­tions. “We have 3 pal­lets of green beans! A va­ri­ety of foods are needed to pro­vide a bal­anced nu­tri­tional diet,” Os­borne said. Vir­tual food drives are an­other great way to help us pro­vide what is needed most. Email food­drive@tabithasway.org for in­for­ma­tion on mak­ing your food drive more ef­fec­tive.

Os­borne said the Tabitha’s Way goal is to serve the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties well. The larger vi­sion in­cludes cre­at­ing a No Hunger Zone—an area where no one ever has to face hunger or food in­se­cu­rity be­cause neigh­bors (cit­i­zens, busi­nesses, schools, and other or­ga­ni­za­tions) have taken emo­tional and fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to as­sure that never hap­pens.

“To achieve that vi­sion, we need to con­tinue to im­prove what we do, to find and serve spe­cific ar­eas, to en­gage many more in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions to vol­un­teer and do­nate money,” she said. “We look for­ward to build­ing an en­dow­ment that will al­low sup­port for in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies (es­pe­cially chil­dren) suf­fer­ing tough times for many decades.”

Be­cause tough times and hunger and food in­se­cu­rity don’t come and go and they don’t take va­ca­tions, Os­borne em­pha­sizes the so­lu­tion needs to be equally per­sis­tent and re­solved.

A thriv­ing lo­cal food pantry is the first step to fight­ing food in­se­cu­rity. Once com­pleted, Tabitha’s Way will move from its ex­ist­ing lo­ca­tion on Main Street and into its per­ma­nent home at 45 East 100 North, Span­ish Fork.

Os­borne said, “Ev­ery suc­cess we have achieved has been with the sup­port of many. A heart­felt thank you to the many donors, part­ners, em­ploy­ees, vol­un­teers, and neigh­bors for help­ing re­duce hunger and food in­se­cu­rity in our com­mu­nity. We in­vite you to come visit us. We in­vite you to help.”

Vol­un­teers find joy serv­ing at Tabitha’s Way food pantry. The or­ga­ni­za­tion de­pends on weekly vol­un­teers to keep op­er­a­tion costs down.

Tabitha’s way is seek­ing vol­un­teers like this woman to serve 1-2 days each week.

A vol­un­teer car­ries food do­na­tions at Tabitha’s Way food pantry.

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