Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the US in March, more and more people are in need of help. In April, the unemployment rate rose 10.3 percent, bringing the total rate to 14.7 percent. That was the biggest over-the-month increase and the highest rate since the US government started counting the unemployment rate in 1948. In addition to the people who are out of work, there are temporarily furloughed workers and others who took pay cuts but kept their jobs.
The economic situation is dire for many people, and it looks like there’s no end in sight. Asking for help, though, can be just as hard as struggling, M. Nora Bouchard, leadership coach and author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need, told CNBC. According to Bouchard, people are hard-wired to be independent and self-reliant.
“We don’t want to be ashamed of our situation, or come across as incompetent,” she says. “So we work really hard to make sure people don’t see us this way.”
There’s no shame in asking for help, especially in a significant economic and health crisis, and there are local programs here to help. Here’s how to find them:
If your family needs help putting food on the table, several local programs can help:
- Community Action Services and Food Bank has the largest food pantries in Utah, Summit, and Wasatch counties. All you need to do is go to the pantry during operating hours. You’ll meet with a counselor to assess your situation and budget. Once you qualify, you’ll receive a prepacked box of food with enough to feed your family. Hours and locations are posted on the website.
- Food Not Bombs has refrigerators in Provo and Spanish Fork filled with food available to anyone. Clients need to wear gloves and only come during daylight hours. Watch the group’s Facebook page for updates.
- Food and Care Coalition in Provo provides meals and sack lunches to homeless, transient, and low-income people. For more information, call (801) 373-1825.
- The Department of Workforce Services has a nutrition assistance program (SNAP) for low-income people. Call (866) 435-7414 extension 3 for more information.
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offers food assistance to families. Call (801) 851-7340 for details.
Community Action Services and Food Bank has both emergency housing and rent assistance available to those who qualify. New, recently approved funding is now available, so if you need help paying rent, call (801) 373-8200, and a caseworker will discuss options and eligibility with you.
The Financial Literacy Center at Community Action Services and Food Bank isn’t doing one-on-one financial counseling or classes at this time. However, it had prepared a virtual financial learning class, now streaming on YouTube, to help people during the crisis.
If you’ve lost your job, you’ve likely also lost your insurance. If you need to see a doctor, dentist, or mental health specialist during the crisis, there are places to get help.
Community Health Connect’s mission is to improve access to health and dental care for low-income Utah County residents. It accomplishes this mission through a network of volunteer providers. Call (801) 818-3015 for more information or check out its website. Another option for healthcare is the Mountainlands Community Health Center in Provo. It provides health care to low-income, underinsured, and uninsured Utah County residents. Go to mountainlands.org for more information.
Do you need help with something else during the pandemic? United Way of Utah County has a helpline with a comprehensive list of community resources. Just call 211 for help.
We’re living through a significant health and economic crisis, and there’s no shame in asking for help. In our community, you can find help with food, rent, health care, finances, and more.