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November 22, 2016

Help Those in Need the Right Way This Holiday Season

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

(Salt Lake County)—With the holiday charitable giving season upon us, the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) encourages good Samaritans to utilize existing social service agencies rather than conducting direct outreach on their own—especially when it comes to serving food to the homeless.

“It’s wonderful when people give back, especially this time of year,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of SLCoHD. “And we want to make sure that people’s charity is received by those in need in the best—and safest—way possible.”

The SLCoHD Food Protection Bureau says that homeless and other individuals in need can be particularly vulnerable to foodborne illness, so it’s important that the food they receive is prepared using safe food handling practices.

Several excellent organizations in our community provide meals to people in need. Together, these organizations already serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner nearly every day of the year, and they rely on donations and volunteers in order to do so.

"Providing assistance through these existing programs is the best way to give back in our community,” Edwards continued, “and these organizations have a structure in place to utilize your time, goods and money in the most efficient way possible.”

Homeless-assistance organizations available to receive volunteers and donations include:

St. Vincent De Paul Dining Hall

Rescue Mission of Salt Lake

The Road Home

Salt Lake City Mission

For people still interested in providing their own independent food outreach, Utah state law requires them to register their outreach event with the local health department, at no cost, and receive food safety information. To register a charitable food outreach event in Salt Lake County, call 385-468-3845. More information about food outreach to the homeless is available at

In addition, food outreach events on public property (such as a park, street, or sidewalk) in Salt Lake City require a Free Expression Permit from Salt Lake City Events. For more information, call 801-535-6110 or visit