By Sara Davis
In 2017, Community Action Services and Food Bank helped thousands of people in Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties who didn’t have enough food, were pulling themselves out of poverty, needed financial help, were buying their first home or needed emergency assistance.
Every month, it sent food home with an average of 900 families from its Provo location. It also distributed food to 250 more families monthly from its locations in Heber, Kamas and Coalville. And it sent 1,450 nutrition packs home every week with elementary school students who don’t have enough food at home.
But it couldn’t have distributed 3.6 million pounds of food, helped hungry kids or done anything else without the community’s help.
“A daily occurrence in the food pantry is clients expressing thanks to our staff and volunteers for the help they receive,” said Dave Smith, food bank manager. “Homeless individuals, struggling seniors, families facing problems and others truly appreciate programs and food assistance of Community Action Services and Food Bank. We always tell those clients that the help they receive would not be possible without the generous and ongoing support of community members, businesses and others. The generosity and support shown blesses lives and makes this a better place to live. Our communities benefit when kids facing hunger or families in poverty receive the needed assistance and guidance to achieve self-sufficiency. That is the mission of Community Action Services.”
Thousands of people donated tens of thousands of hours to help their fellow community members through the agency, just like they did in 2016. But something new in 2017 was the mid-year addition of Even Stevens, a sandwich shop in Provo.
The chain opened its first Utah County location in Provo in June. The shop partners with four local non-profits at each location, and donates a portion of profits. It gives a sandwich (or the cost of the ingredients of a sandwich) for every sandwich sold. Here’s how it works: It gives each of the chosen non-profits an account with Sysco, its food distributor. At the end of the month, it takes the number of sandwiches sold at each location and multiplies that by the average cost of ingredients for its non-profit sandwiches. It divides that amount between the non-profits as a food budget for the month to buy shelf-stable or fresh food at wholesale prices from Sysco.
In Provo, that meant that it donated 50,988 sandwiches (since June), or $27,533.52. It gave Community Action 17,845 sandwiches, or $9,636.30 of that amount, according to Katherine Dupree, cause coordinator for Even Stevens.
The give-back business plan is working for the chain, which has eight locations in Utah as well as shops in Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Washington.
“We’ve gotten lots of feedback both in person, on Yelp and other social media platforms that people appreciate our cause and that it’s a factor in their decision to eat at Even Stevens,” she said.
Dupree said the business doesn’t have plans to open more shops in Utah County in 2018, but it’s possible in the future. If it does, it will look for non-profits in the neighborhood of the store. Sometimes, if a non-profit has more than one location and high need, it will partner with the same agency at a second shop.
For more information about Even Stevens and its cause, go to https://evenstevens.com. To volunteer, donate or get help from Community Action Services and Food Bank, go to http://communityactionuc.org, call (801) 373-8200 or go to 815 S. Freedom Blvd. Ste. 100 in Provo.