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Eureka man helps keep community from going hungry

Published: Friday, Sept. 23 2011 7:20 p.m. MDT

Art Cornish, left, who runs the Eureka Food Bank, has helped the family of Shirley Bell, left, among many others.

Winston Armani, Deseret News

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EUREKA, Juab County — He's known in Eureka as the guy who helps people.

In fact, just ask anyone in this small town who Art Cornish is, and chances are, they'll start smiling.

"He's really brought a good change," said longtime Eureka resident Shirley Bell. "He cares so much for people."

Cornish runs the local food bank. He pretty much started it himself a few years ago after his wife died.

"When she died, we really didn't have a lot of outside help," Cornish said. "So I decided I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. I want to help those who need it."

Ever since, that's exactly what he's been doing. Once a month, Cornish gets a delivery from the Utah Food Bank. People line up in a church parking lot when the truck arrives, showing just how great the need is.

"I never anticipated it would go like this," Cornish said. "I thought we'd have a few people, but it has just grown and grown. The need is very, very, very much out here."

Earlier this week, Cornish got a knock on his door from a man who said he hadn't eaten anything in three days, and was wondering if there was any food available.

"I could not go to bed knowing somebody was hungry, and if I have the means, I'll help them," said Cornish.

The man he helped is Larry Jensen. Jensen moved to Mammoth, an even smaller town outside of Eureka, a few months ago.

"I was living in Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City," said Jensen, "but I didn't like it there. Someone said I could stay at their place here, so I came out here."

However, access to food isn't as easy in rural areas as it can be in larger cities.

"I know that, but I choose to live out in the country," Jensen said.

Within an hour of knocking on Cornish's door, Jensen had several boxes of food delivered to his house.

"Yeah, he saved me," said Jensen. "Without Art, there would probably be a lot more people going hungry. He's a great guy, and I'm glad he's helping people out here."

Cornish said he's now helping about 200 families a month with food from the Utah Food Bank. He'd like to help more, but sometimes food is limited — and there's still the "embarrassment" factor.

"We all have our pride," said Bell. "I know it was hard for me to ask for help."

Bell's son and daughter moved back home, and she found herself without enough money to buy food for everyone. That's when she met Cornish. He convinced her it was OK to ask for help.

"I was so worried about what others would say about me asking for food," said Bell. "But it's OK to ask for help. When you're down and out, sometimes you just have to throw away that pride and embarrassment you might feel and accept the help when it's there."

For Cornish, and his small team of volunteers, running the food bank has almost become a full-time job. Still, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I don't like to see people suffer," he said. "If someone comes and needs help, I refuse to turn them away."

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have asked its Utah members to participate in a food drive for the Utah Food Bank and other local food pantries today.

Email: acabrero@desnews.com Twitter: ksl_alexcabrero

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