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Kamas Valley food pantries call for community support, work to expand services

Oakley City
Oakley City Hall.

Food pantries in the Kamas Valley need community help stocking shelves. A nonprofit is also working to expand service in the area.

Provo-based nonprofit Community Action Services operates food pantries in Coalville, Heber and Oakley. The nonprofit also used to have a pantry in Kamas but it closed due to rising rental costs a few years ago. Since then, Laura Vernor, who runs the Coalville and Oakley pantries, said the organization has been working to get service back in Kamas and to expand service into Henefer and Francis.

“The Kamas Valley is growing and we're looking to grow with that,” she said. “But there is a lot of need and then acknowledging that some of the people that are being laid off and not finding work just makes it even harder.”

Vernor said the Oakley pantry sees twice as many families as the Coalville pantry, even though they’re open the same number of hours each week. Further, she said some Kamas families walk to the Oakley pantry and carry their groceries home. Park City families are also starting to show up at the Oakley pantry.

“Usually they don't venture out of Park City if they don't need to but sometimes when they need us more they start looking more,” Vernor said.

Right now the pantries get donations from the Park City High School National Honor Society’s annual food drive and leftover food from Newport Academy in Oakley and the Kamas FoodTown. But Vernor said at least 75% of the food in Oakley and Coalville food pantries comes from the organization's food bank in Provo and the nonprofit is hoping to get more community and local business support.

“Businesses can join a program called grocery rescue where we can get their stuff that's almost bad and get it right out in our community instead of getting that stuff from Provo, where it's a week old already,” she said.

Community members can also make donations. Vernor said the food pantries are always in need of fresh produce, healthy snacks like granola bars and applesauce pouches, cereal, toilet paper, milk and eggs. The pantries also want locals to bring in old grocery bags and spare egg cartons for eggs farmers donate.

With the growing need, Vernor said many Summit County cities are looking to make room for food pantries. The Oakley pantry currently resides in City Hall and city officials have said they will find a more permanent spot for it as they revamp the city center.

The organization is also working with Kamas to reinstate a permanent food pantry. Vernor said the nonprofit wanted to have a mobile food pantry in Kamas this summer since the area has more low-income housing, but it didn’t work out. The organization is now working with the Kamas mayor to offer mobile services next season.

Community Action Services was successful in opening a mobile pantry in Henefer. The pantry van parks at Henefer’s city park every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. except on Juneteenth and Pioneer Day. The mobile pantry will operate through the summer. Vernor said her team is working with the city to open a permanent spot in Henefer.