Embracing Hope: Utah Food Bank Unveils New Pantries on Navajo Nation

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Amidst remarks and traditional Navajo Blessings, two ribbon-cutting ceremonies unfolded, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the fight against hunger statewide. We are thrilled to announce the opening of two new pantries, each spanning an impressive 4,000 square feet, strategically located in Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley, on the Navajo Nation.  

These pantries will be supported by Utah Food Bank Southeastern Distribution Center in Blanding, which includes an attached 1,800-square-foot pantry. Our SEDC warehouse has refrigerator and freezer space, a critical addition aimed at increasing the availability of fresh food in the area. 

The decision to expand services was driven by the pressing need within the Navajo Nation. Classified as a food desert, residents often faced daunting journeys of several hours to access basic food resources. In San Juan County, rates of hunger surpass the state average, with childhood hunger being particularly prevalent. The statistics highlight the urgency of our commitment to this multi-pronged expansion project. 

The opening of these pantries signifies more than just access to food; it symbolizes a lifeline for communities long grappling with food insecurity. By creating job and volunteer opportunities within the pantries, we are not only providing essential resources but also empowering individuals to contribute meaningfully to their communities. This initiative promises stability and reliability in operating hours, a welcome change for many. 

“I have always had to drive across three state lines just to buy a loaf of bread,” – said a San Juan county resident in attendance.

These facilities are set to become crucial resources for residents facing food insecurity in the southeastern region and will be open to the public in the coming weeks. As we commemorate this significant occasion, let us remember that the journey towards Fighting Hunger Statewide is ongoing. With each pantry opened and each meal provided, we take a step closer to realizing that vision. Together, we embrace the promise of a brighter, more nourished tomorrow.