Volunteers in Iron County collect 26 tons of food donations for local pantry

CEDAR CITY — Saturday’s food drive brought in more than 26 tons of food, more than enough to fill the shelves at the Iron County Care and Share.

Iron County Care and Share, Cedar City, Utah, March 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Iron County Care and Share Director Peggy Green said that at 52,000 pounds and counting, this was by far the largest drive in recent memory.

“It was twice as big as the largest drive we’ve had in the last five years,” Green told Cedar City News on Monday.

“I’m still stunned,” Naomi Ewen, Care and Share financial assistant, said Monday as she and other workers continued to sort through the many boxes and bags of donated nonperishable food items. Not only were the warehouse shelves brimming with food, a large U-Haul truck parked outside was almost completely filled.

The local drive was part of a new statewide effort called Feed Utah. 

For many years, Utah’s statewide springtime food drive was the Scouting for Food effort, but that changed after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ceased sponsoring Boy Scout troops at the end of 2019. 

“When the change with the Boy Scouts and the church occurred, there are now two major food drives that are statewide,” Green explained, noting that one is held in the spring and the other in the fall.

Last spring’s drive was canceled due to COVID-19, she said, while last fall’s effort fell short of expectations.

That didn’t stop organizers from pulling out all the stops and making another try this month, she said.

This time around, Green noted, the statewide food drive was a resounding success.

A worker stocks shelves at the Iron County Care and Share pantry, Cedar City, Utah, March 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“They did it,” she said. “They did everything correctly, and it just worked.”

Green credits the LDS Church and other organizations for enlisting the help of volunteers through JustServe.org, and the Utah Food Bank for their cooperation, partnership and support.

“I think on a local level, we definitely saw commitment and involvement,” she said. “Everybody was really prepared.”

Green also expressed thanks to Lin’s Marketplace for their ongoing support.

“They really helped with the preparation and in helping distribute door hangers,” Green said. “Lin’s has really stepped it up lately for us. Aside from the food drive, keeping a bin in their store where people can buy and donate food and being really good about setting aside stuff that we can pick up when we do our regular grocery rescue. They’ve just been outstanding.”

Green said the food collected last weekend will help feed many local families in need, a number she said has been showing an upward trend.

In recent years, Iron County Care and Share has typically provided food to around 750 to 800 different households annually, Green said, adding, “And at the end of 2020, we ended up at nearly 1,400 unique households.”

Fully stocked shelves at the Iron County Care and Share pantry, Cedar City, Utah, March 22, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Green said she is grateful to all those who generously donated and said the food will help many families not have to worry about putting food on the table. 

“When you think about how disruptive last year was for everybody, it’s a good thought to think, ‘Okay, we’ve got the food. Now, nobody has to stress out about that,’” she said.

As of Tuesday, additional food donations were still trickling in, Green said. Those who missed getting their donated food picked up Saturday can either drop it off themselves or have someone take it to Iron County Care and Share, 222 W. 900 North, Cedar City. The center’s hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. There is also a white dropbox out front for dropping off donations after hours and other times when the center is closed.

“Anyone can drop donations off, and they can drop them off at any time,” Green said, noting that the center has been closing for 45 minutes midday on days when it is open, between 12:45 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. 

“We close down for a bit in the middle of the day just to restock and get boxes ready,” she said.

If anyone is unable to bring their donation in themselves or cannot find someone willing to drop it off for them, Green said they are encouraged to call Care and Share and ask for help.

“I think it’s always a part of trying to do a food drive community-wide, where you’re saying, we’ll pick up at every house,” she said. “It’s going to happen. People have been really good. Like, we’ve had people volunteer and say, ‘Hey, so I’ll pick up your bag on my way to take mine over.’ So, it’s happening.”

For more information about Iron County Care and Share and its programs, or to sign up as a volunteer, visit the organization’s website or call 435-586-4962.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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