News Release

Residents and Volunteers Help Fight Hunger in Feed Utah Food Drive

Residents and volunteers help the statewide “Feed Utah” food drive collect thousands of food donations from around the state in less than a day

Leading up to His crucifixion and miraculous resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth shared a parable that His followers strive to live by to this day: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in” (Matthew 25:35).

Some 2,000 years later, the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need to follow the Savior’s admonition to help fight food insecurity.

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On Saturday, March 20, 2021, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Associated Food Stores, the National Guard, KSL, the Boys and Girls Club of multiple state counties and many other local and interfaith entities partnered to collect and deliver bags and boxes of food to help the Utah Food Bank support thousands of families in the state’s first “Feed Utah” food drive.

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Many other faith-based groups that have food pantries throughout the entire state of Utah also co-sponsored the food drive including Catholic Community Services, Holy Trinity Church, Prophet Elias Church, and Fish-n-Loaves Food Pantry.

Utah Food Bank CEO Ginette Bott said that Utah (a state of 3.1 million people) typically has about 500,000 people who struggle with food insecurity. The pandemic expanded this by 160,000. “The needs have increased dramatically,” she said. “[COVID] has changed many things in the families’ lives that we serve.”

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Bott, accompanied by Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Latter-day Saint leaders including Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, and Elder Evan A. Schmutz of the Utah Area Presidency, met with members of the media to spread awareness and invite people everywhere to lend a helping hand.

“Now more than ever, this is an opportunity for Utahns to step up and just show once again, that we really do care about each other, that we care about our neighbors,” said Governor Cox. “You can help Utah Food Bank’s goal of eliminating hunger statewide by participating.”

Approximately two-thirds of Utahns are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because they are part of the majority, President Cordon said it is important for young Latter-day Saints to invite those outside the faith to take part to increase the feeling of community in the state. “We want to invite the youth to invite all their friends … to participate in this opportunity to serve,” said President Cordon.

Such service is core to the faith’s Young Women organization, which teaches those ages 12 through 18 how to understand and live by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“I was talking to one of the youth, and I thought, ‘Isn’t that how we build our communities and strengthen them, by serving the way our Savior Jesus Christ would serve?’” she said. “We are so grateful to serve alongside many of our friends from other faiths. We are grateful for the opportunity to have the support of all the community leaders and the support of so many organizations.”

Latter-day Saints and Primary Children Enlist and Invite Others to Help Fight Food Insecurity

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Leading up to and shortly after the Feed Utah food drive’s announcement, thousands of Latter-day Saint Primary-age children, their parents and leaders placed hundreds of thousands of Feed Utah food drive door flyers on the front doors of homes throughout the state.

“We are here to drop off flyers on people’s stores to invite them to donate food so that these kids who are going hungry can get some food,” said Tristen Sweeten, a Latter-day Saint from Layton, Utah, in the parking lot of a Church meetinghouse.

With her four children by her side, Sweeten, who serves as a second counselor in her local congregation’s Primary presidency, spoke to a group of more than a dozen volunteers who arrived shortly before the sun went down, ready to help.

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“We’re going to address the issues [and] educate the kids about what is going on in the world before we go hand out the flyers so [the youth] know and have a greater sense of purpose of what they’re doing today,” said Sweeten.

After a brief prayer, and with a map of the surrounding area in hand, Sweeten and other Primary leaders handed out the food drive’s red door hanger flyers and assigned each volunteer group to specific areas.

Each Utah Food Bank door hanger asked residents to place a bag of nonperishable food outside their front doors by 9 a.m. Saturday for volunteers to pick up.

“We’re going to divide and conquer,” Sweeten said.

“It makes me feel happy because I’m doing good for other people,” added Jackson Sweeten, Tristen’s son.

Latter-day Saint children of all ages raced to front doors and placed the awareness materials on doorknob after doorknob, with their parents guiding the way.

“I think this is important too because Jesus helps a lot of people,” said 10-year-old Emily Cottrell. “I want to help people [and] bring joy to others.”

Volunteers Collect and Transfer Hundreds of Bags of Food Donations to Utah Food Bank

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On Saturday morning, community volunteers collected hundreds of bags with food drive donations and began delivering them to key locations where more people awaited to fill up Utah Food Bank trucks standing by.

“It shows our faith in putting others before ourselves,” said Cameron Browning, from West Jordan, Utah.

Fourteen-year-old Browning joined youth his age, all from the same Latter-day Saint congregation, to provide the muscle needed to pick up the bags of food goods and transport them to food bank drop-off locations including grocery stores and community and faith-based entities.

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“Here we are, another five to six trucks, unloading at this time” said Latter-day Saint Chad Bloomfield, who also collected food, filled his vehicle’s trailer and dropped off bags of food donations at the Macey’s food store parking lot in West Jordan.

“There’s times when you think, ‘Are there enough good people in the world?’ and I think it’s more important now that we come together as people, and just support each other and help each other in any way that we possibly can,” said Bloomfield.

Other faith-based and community entities also participated in the Feed Utah food drive at donation drop-off sites, including Salt Lake City’s Calvary Baptist Church, Centro Cristiano Monte de Sion Church (in English, The Mount Zion Christian Church), Ogden Rescue Mission and more.

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“The community embraces the law of reciprocity, you know, you give, and you receive,” said Reverend Dr. Oscar T. Moses, of the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“We live in, in some very unprecedented times, and it calls for us as brothers and sisters in the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity to come together and compile our efforts, whatever they may be. If we can have a holistic approach towards helping the least, the left out, the marginalized people, I think God will be glorified,” he said.

"The three things that Utah Food Bank asks for are food, time and money — and boy, did the Feed Utah food drive deliver!" said Bott.

"Between what looks to be close to record-setting amounts of food donated, generous financial contributions and the hard work of volunteers across the state, we could not be more humbled by the outpouring of support we received," she said. "We could not have done this without the partnership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Associated Food Stores and so many others who helped in this endeavor."

Bott also mentioned that she and the Utah Food Bank team are already looking forward to the Feed Utah food drive becoming an annual event.

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