Boy Scouts and other Scouting-age youth may have outdone last year's good-deed Saturday by collecting more than 200 tons of food for the poor and needy.

One district surpassed its 1989 collection by 5,000 items and another by 1,000 during the annual Scouting for Food drive.The drive is sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America and the Cache Valley, Great Salt Lake, Lake Bonneville and Utah National Parks councils.

"This is the one chance we have to show the general public that we are very much a service organization - to do something we think is important - that is, to collect food for the poor and needy," said Kay Godfrey, public relations director for the Greater Salt Lake Council.

The drive actually began earlier this week when Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts distributed bags, provided by Utah Power & Light Co., to Utah homes. Early Saturday, the sacks, filled with commercially canned and packaged non-perishable food, were picked up and then distributed by the Utah National Guard to food banks and pantries throughout the state.

Some 35 National Guard trucks and 100 Guardsmen participated in the massive pick-up effort, which lasted into the evening.

The goodwill will last for months.

"It's a major portion of the food we distribute every year," said Brenda Thompson, director of the Salt Lake Food Bank.

Thompson said food collected by the Scouts last November lasted almost a year. But the number of Utah's hungry is increasing.

"Through the Food Bank we are feeding about 10,000 people a month in Salt Lake Valley through the emergency food supply pantry, including homeless, transients, families who are just not making it."

Because that number is expected to increase, Thompson hopes other Utahns will follow in the Scouts' footsteps.

"The major portion of our food comes in November, and hunger is year-round," she said.