ST. GEORGE — The 35th annual Scouting For Food Drive ended on Feb. 12 after Utahns joined the call to action and donated 142,000 pounds of food, according to a press release from the Boy Scouts of America.
In Southwestern Utah, the Boy Scouts collected 6,101 pounds of food. Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 12, Utahns could drop off canned or boxed food at designated drop-off sites including food pantries and food banks, the Bank of Utah and Arctic Circle locations. Boy Scouts also collected donations from shoppers at 50 Smith’s stores on Scouting For Food Day on Feb. 6, according to the press release.
This year’s food drive looked different from years past. Instead of going door-to-door to ask for donations, Scouts asked the public to fill bags with canned chili, soups, beef stew, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and boxed meals and drop them off. The Bank of Utah designed and distributed 59,000 donation bags. Arctic Circle offered coupons for a double cheeseburger to anyone who donated to the food drive.
The food drive felt more community-oriented this year despite the changes, Boy Scouts of America Crossroads of the West Council scout executive Allen Endicott told St. George News.
“I went to several different locations on drop-off day, on Scouting For Food Day, and it was just exciting to see people who responded to the call to action to be able to donate and to watch our Scouts, who were able to do a good job, helping people to collect those donations to make a difference,” Endicott said.
The poundage of food collected across the state was lower than in the past, but comparing the numbers is like comparing apples to oranges because of the differences in the way it was done, Endicott said.
“I don’t think that should diminish what occurred,” he said. “142,000 pounds is really significant, especially for food pantries that were in need because of the virus.”
DeLoy Emett, Scouting For Food Drive effort coordinator for St. George and Cedar City, told St. George News via email that the Scouts in Washington and Iron Counties had to reevaluate the way they collected food. Each Boy Scout was only given enough bags to collect food from immediate family and close neighbors, and then they dropped those off at the two Smith’s stores in St. George.
On Scouting For Food Day, the Utah Food Bank had already dropped off containers to be filled with food donations at the Smith’s stores. Boy Scouts stood at the entrance and handed out fliers to shoppers. All the containers and pallets were filled within hours, Emett said.
“The response from the community of shoppers was inspiring,” he said. “Just before noon at the Mall Drive Smith’s, I witnessed an elderly couple exit the store with a shopping cart overflowing, then give the cart to the Scouts that had previously greeted them as they entered. I was excited to see shoppers surprised by seeing Scouts again and thrilled as they greeted the boys as Scouts and thanked them for their service and keeping the Scouting tradition alive.”
The Hurricane Food Pantry also collected a container full of donations. Because of the efforts of communities across the state, hungry families were able to receive food during a hard time, Endicott said.
“I think it’s a tremendous indication of the importance of scouting in our communities,” he said. “We are just grateful for their willingness to support this great effort.”
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