2022 Community Needs Assessment
1. What are the major data changes from baseline? (prior needs assessment)
Decrease in Washington County of families participating in the free/reduced cost school lunch program; Increase of participation in Kane County for school lunch program.
2. What contributed to these changes?
- Participation in the school lunch program in Kane County went from 35.4 to 39% an increase in usage of free and reduced lunch. The closure of places of employment and reduction in work from Covid-19 affected income over a limited time frame and may have increased the need.
- Participation in the school lunch program in Washington County decreased from 39.87 to 34%. Due to Covid-19 families were forced to do virtual learning at home and some home schooling options that may have affected usage of free and reduced lunch.
3. What barriers (specific to income) were made clear by the data?
The cost of living is disproportionate to wages. Feedback received from individuals and families in poverty suggests that the cost of living has increased more than the typical low-income household can afford on current wages. This, of course, includes the cost of groceries.
4. What gaps in service were noted for this issue?
- Clients and other community members confirm that it is much more cost effective for low-income families and individuals to fill their pantries with less healthy processed foods than it is to buy fresh and healthy ingredients. This not only contributes to the rate of obesity and diabetes, but many other health conditions that essentially cost the community money in other areas.
- Families and individuals who frequently rely on the food pantries in their local area experience food insecurity when access is limited due to understaffing and underfunding
5. Are there individual/family/community unmet needs in this area
- Increased funding for food pantries: 20% of the people surveyed said that their tax return was spent mostly on food/groceries. There is a lack of funding to all the food pantries in our service area, but an exceptional need in the more rural communities. With an increase in funding, not only would the pantries be able to provide nutritious meal options for more families and individuals in need, but they would be able to staff the pantry for additional operating days to ensure easier access to the community.
- Rural community case management: According to 2019 census data (most current information available), 8.37% of the residents in Enterprise, a rural community of Washington County, were living below the federal poverty level. That rate seems to be disproportionately higher in women and children. Rural communities lack the resources, or even knowledge of available resources, that the larger cities benefit from
- Community outreach: People in rural communities lack the resources needed, and in most cases, aren’t even aware of what resources may be available to them. Having an outreach program that extended to these areas would help to close this gap.
6. What linkages (including partnerships) are needed to address barriers, gaps, and unmet need?
- Hurricane Food Pantry
- Rural Food Pantries
- Switchpoint CRC
- Care and Share
- Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP)
- Utah Food Bank
- Free/Reduced School Lunch Program
- Bishop’s Storehouse
7. From reviewing the nutrition data, what has your agency learned about the root cause of poverty in your community?
The high costs of groceries and other housing expenses have worsened the already difficult task of buying fresh, healthy food for families, resulting in “stretch the dollar” type budgeting. Less expensive foods are often the more shelf-stable variety, full of preservatives, with a lowered nutritional value. This can lead to long-term health issues, including diabetes and obesity.