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Facility upgrades and annual goals: catching up with Kane County Care and Share

According to the mission statement of the Kane County Care and Share, the program’s goal is “Bring[ing] the community together with the goal to alleviate food insecurity for our neighbors in need. We are dedicated to building a community where no one goes hungry.” As the program grows and develops, Kane County Care and Share Director Jerica Bauer offered some information going into 2024. Says Bauer, “We’ve got our three locations - Kanab, Orderville and Big Water - and we want to make sure people know they’re there in case they need help … that’s the reason we’re getting this information out there, so people know where to find us if they’re in need or looking to participate.”

This sturdy old building has served as the Kanab Care and Share location for years - though it may be time for an upgraded facility, as the county prepares for a new community outreach center. Photo by Ty Gant.

The hours for each location differ, so checking in with Care and Share’s page on the Kane County website can help individuals looking to contribute or sign up for aid coordinate when and where to go. The Care and Share’s qualifier is 185 percent of the federal poverty line, so anyone within that bracket qualifies for aid (the website has a helpful reference sheet for how that standard shifts depending on family size “The Care and Share basically operates like a food bank,” says Bauer, describing the nature of aid the program provides, “with the County funding operations like staff and building utilities, and everything else being purely donations from the Utah Food Bank and local community donations. There is a spot on the website where donors can provide monetary support … but most of our donations are commodities donated locally.”

When asked for highlights over the course of directing the Care and Share program, Bauer cited being able to mitigate some of the suffering caused by the COVID outbreak: “When I first became director, we were pretty much right in the middle of COVID. I had multiple people who came in because they were laid off from their jobs. Some of them came in a little embarrassed that they even needed help and didn’t have any other options … we have people that just barely don’t qualify for SNAP but still fall within our threshold, those are the sorts of people we can really help get back on their feet. Bad circumstances can happen to anybody, we’re here to help whoever needs it.”

Donations must have the USDA safe handling label to be accepted, so donors should avoid home-canned or repackaged goods, and labeled goods will not be accepted if they are beyond a year past their labeled expiration date. According to Bauer, “We’ll take pretty much anything that’s not rotten or spoiled as far as perishables, because we can usually get those things out pretty quickly, but non-perishables are always better if people plan on donating in quantity. Everything is appreciated, but we’re always in need of proteins - so, peanut butter, canned meats and things like that.”

Kane County’s Care and Share has three part time employees - one for each location - and the dedicated staff like Bauer who split their time between the food bank and the senior center, with volunteers filling in between where needed. Potential volunteers and donors can visit any of the locations during open hours, or get in touch through the contact information on the website. Per Bauer, the Care and Share are looking to increase their volunteer and donation rates to accommodate growth in local communities, as well as to keep up with improvements and preparations for new facilities: “We’re working on building our new community outreach center in the near future,” says Bauer, “we’re excited to have an updated Care and Share location in the community.”

Bauer concluded, “We’re not a replacement for a trip to the grocery store - we don’t always have milk, or bread, or butter, but we’ve got canned beans and greens. Hopefully we can act as that little stimulus that can help people have enough without having to make those expensive trips to the grocery store … enough to help them get through those hard times that we all have.”

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