ST. GEORGE — Smith’s and the Bank of Utah’s St. George locations will serve as drop-off locations for the Scouting for Food Drive, a Boy Scouts of America initiative to feed the hungry across Utah.
The Boy Scouts of America Crossroads of the West Council is asking the public to drop off non-perishable food items at locations across the state for its 35th annual food drive, according to a press release issued by the Boy Scouts. Gov. Spencer Cox issued a proclamation on Tuesday declaring Jan. 25 – Feb. 12 for the food drive and Scouting for Food Day on Feb. 6.
More than 400 Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout troops and venturing crews will participate statewide, in addition to 40 community food pantries and food banks, 35 Arctic Circle restaurants, 18 Bank of Utah locations, 11 Red Hanger locations and 56 Smith’s stores.
The Bank of Utah participates in a coat drive every year, but the coronavirus pandemic called for a more physically distant effort, Senior Vice President Bradley Stucki told St. George News. In addition to committing all 18 locations to participate, the bank also designed and paid for all 59,000 donation bags that the food drive will use to collect donations, 6,000 of which will be distributed by the bank.
“During the winter months the Bank of Utah normally would do a drive for coats and other warm clothing,” Stucki said. “This year with the COVID-19, we didn’t think it was a good idea to do the coats and warm winter clothing because of the secondhand and possible transmission and so on, so we recognized the Scouting for Food as a way that we could contribute.”
The pandemic has made it all the more important to give back, Stucki said, because so many people are out of work. The food drive was a way many people could band together without much hardship and do a little bit to make a big difference.
For the first time, Scouting for Food is collecting and donating food in new ways and connecting with new partners. The Bank of Utah will hand out Scouting for Food bags at their drive-up locations and ask the public to fill the bags with non-perishable food items and bring them to drop-off sites. People can fill any bag they like with donations and bring them to a drop-off site.
On Feb. 6, Boy Scout troops will be at Smith’s locations from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. asking the public to buy extra food and drop off donations at the scout booth on their way out. Boy Scout troops, Red Hanger and food banks will then pick up the donations and deliver them to food assistance organizations.
Scouts will not go door to door this year asking for donations as they have done in the past, Scouting for Food state coordinator Lorna Koci said. Instead, they are striving to feed Utah’s hungry children in a contactless way. One in five children in Utah are experiencing food insecurity, Koci said, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
This year’s Scouting for Food message is “Every bag counts,” emphasizing that anything from a whole pallet to a single can of food can make a difference in someone’s life, Boy Scouts of America Crossroads of the West Council Scout Executive Allen Endicott said in the press release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many hardships upon families, and new people including parents working in the service, restaurant and hospitality industries, are turning to local food pantries to help feed their children,” Endicott said.
For the next three weeks, Utahns will be able to drop off items such as beef stew, chili, soups, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and boxed meals at any of the participating drop-off sites.
Smith’s locations at 565 S. Mall Drive and 20 N. Bluff Street in St. George and the Bank of Utah’s location at 243 E. St. George Blvd. are among those participating. Other participating locations across Washington and Iron Counties include the Hurricane Valley Food Pantry at 450 E. 800 N. #8 in Hurricane; Smith’s at 633 S Main Street in Cedar City; and the Iron County Care and Share at 222 W. 900 N. in Cedar City.
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