Utah Food Bank opens outlets in Blanding, Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley

by Sally Jack
Contributing writer
Utah Food Bank announces the opening of its new Southeastern Distribution Center and Food Pantry in Blanding.
Construction on the 18,000 square foot facility began more than a year ago under general contractor Tri-Hurst Construction of Blanding, with subcontractors Northern Electric, Redd Mechanical and others contributing to the structure with their areas of expertise.
A ribbon cutting for the new facility will take place Wednesday, February 7 from 10:30 to 11 a.m., followed by an Open House and tours from 11 a.m. to noon.
Although the ribbon cutting and open house on the 7th will be by private invitation only, Southeast Distribution Center Director R.T. Nielson reports that individuals who are interested in taking a tour of the facility are welcome to call for an appointment, or drop by anytime during business hours for a personal tour.The Food Pantry will open doors for business on Thursday, February 8.
The completed distribution center includes a 1,800 foot pantry where qualifying persons may pick up food for their families much like a grocery store.
When patrons arrive, they will be given a chart which shows eligibility requirements based on family size and income.
Patrons will self-declare if they qualify for the services. Those who qualify will then be given a card which indicates a certain amount of times per month they may visit the food pantry, typically twice a month, and also the amount of grocery products they may choose, also based on family size and income.
The Food Pantry is open to all individuals who come, but will most likely serve mainly those from San Juan County.
San Juan County residents face significantly higher rates of hunger compared to the state average, where 20 percent of children in the county are uncertain about their next meal, which is double the statewide average.
Because of the high need in the county, funding through the state of Utah was secured for the new facilities, allowing the new distribution center and pantries to remain debt free.
A nonprofit foundation since 1904, Utah Food Bank is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year.
Utah Food Bank has been actively serving San Juan County for 30 years, but without the infrastructure the new facility brings.
The Government of Utah works closely with the food bank, but food pantries are generally owned and operated by individual groups and entities such as individual counties, community groups, or various religious denominations.
According to RT Nielson, there are upwards of 200 food banks in Utah, but this is the first to be owned and operated directly by Utah Food Bank.
In March, two additional food pantries owned by Utah Food Bank will open in Monument Valley and Montezuma Creek, and a fourth food pantry will soon open in Kanab.
The Navajo Nation is classified as a food desert, with average driving time to food resources taking up to several hours one-way, so the opening of two food resources within the Navajo Nation will reduce this barrier.
During the Covid pandemic of 2020, it became clear that there was a serious need for better food services in San Juan County.
The previous model of dispatching a single truck on a weekly basis to the remote areas of the county proved insufficient to provide adequate relief.
In addition, families had to drive long distances early in the morning, and sit in their cars waiting for the food truck to arrive.
Ginette Bott, Utah Food Bank President and CEO states, “the new facilities will make it possible for us to be helping and serving people more effectively and efficiently and in a much friendlier manner than passing a box of food through a car window. We look forward to being a part of the community in this way. It’s a win / win situation for all involved.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday