Food Pantry expanding days of services - VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
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Food Pantry expanding days of services

Shot of food pantry shelves.

The VA Salt Lake City Food Pantry opened in 2017, and recently expanded the days it serves Veterans.

By Jeremy M. Laird
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The VA Salt Lake City Food Pantry recently expanded days of operation to better serve Veterans.

The pantry was originally just open from noon to 4:00 pm on Thursdays, but it is now also open 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Tuesdays.

“We wanted to make it more convenient for Veterans,” said Emily Aikins, LCSW, VA Salt Lake Food Pantry Coordinator. “Some Veterans just couldn’t make it on Thursdays.”

Doubling the days the food pantry is open could not have happened without the help of Marine Corps Veteran Rex Randall and VA Voluntary Services.

 

Food pantry coordinator and Veteran in food pantry.

Emily Aikins, VA Salt Lake City Food Pantry Coordinator, and Vietnam Veteran Rex Randall, who runs the pantry.

Randall currently runs the pantry as part of his compensated work therapy program. He makes sure that the pantry shelves are stocked, and the donated items are not past their expiration dates. During the pantry’s open hours, Randall and a VA volunteer welcome each Veteran and help them choose items to take home.

“For a Veteran and their spouse,” said Randall, “I’ll give them a box of pasta and can of spaghetti sauce. That can easily be a meal for two days.”

Randall is particularly proud that he has procured hygiene items for both men and women Veterans. He wants to make this a place for all Veterans to come when they are in need.

“I just try to make people happy,” said Randall. “They come in here with a frown and leave with a smile.

Navy Veteran Scott has been using the pantry for the past six months. Scott, like 1.5 million other Veterans, is food insecure meaning they have inconsistent access to adequate food.

“This really helps filling in the gaps,” said Scott with a bag of food he just picked off the pantry shelves. “This helps me go from barely surviving to surviving.”

Randall and Aikins said they help anywhere from 5-30 Veterans every time the Pantry doors open. Since the pantry opened in early 2017, they estimate they have helped several thousand Veterans, like Scott, “go from barely surviving to surviving.”

Veterans enrolled in the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System who have inconsistent access to adequate food are invited to use the food pantry. For more information or to donate, call Emily Aikins at 801-582-1565 ext. 5627.

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