VERNAL — Many people have been laid off because of the pandemic, especially in the Uintah Basin, due to a decreased demand for oil. The Farmers Feeding Utah program arrived in Vernal to help those families in need.
That part of Utah lives and dies with the oil industry, and has seen plenty of boom and bust times before. However, because of COVID-19, many people who work in the oil industry have been laid off or furloughed. That can make paying bills tougher.
But on Friday, farmers from across Utah were helping those families with food.
“They just need a little bit of a hand up. It’s not a handout, just a little bit of help,” said Ron Gibson.
Gibson is the president of the Utah Farm Bureau, but he’s also one of the people responsible for creating the program Farmers Feeding Utah.
It began a few months ago. The idea was, since so many restaurants closed because of the pandemic, farmers were starting to get a surplus of their products.
Many processing plants were also closed because of COVID-19, meaning farmers didn’t have a place to get their products ready for market.
Instead of letting those products go to waste, Farmers Feeding Utah was created so people could donate to the program.
The program then buys that surplus from farmers and donates the food to food banks and charities across the state to help people who need food.
So far, Farmers Feeding Utah has held donation events in San Juan County, the Navajo Nation, Cache County, Salt Lake City, and Ogden.
The program was in Vernal Friday, helping Uintah Basin families.
“They kind of got a double whammy,” said Gibson. “They got hit with the effects of coronavirus and now the down economy. That whole area, in the Uintah Basin, has been hit probably harder than anywhere else in the state.”
The event at Western Park began at 5pm and goes until 7pm.
Potatoes, vegetables, and meat from farmers were available to families for free.
“It might not impact their lives forever,” said Gibson. “But what it’s going to do, is it’s going to make them feel good, and it’s going to make them feel like people care about them.”
Visit farmersfeedingutah.org for more information.