It will be midsummer before all the canned food brought to the Provo Food Bank during last week's Scouting for Food Drive will be sorted, but food bank director Barry Fillmore doesn't mind a bit.
Just four months ago Fillmore wasn't sure if there would be much of a food bank at all. "At the beginning of October there was only 28 cans of soup left in the whole building," he said. "Now we can operate for 10 months on what we have." Fillmore said the Provo Food Bank alone serves more than 1,300 families a month. Utah has 60 food banks.When the counting and weighing are completed, Fillmore said the food bank will have well over 175,000 pounds of food on the shelves. While that's about 10 percent more than last year's local drive, the combined food drives of the Great Salt Lake Council and the Utah National Parks Council, which covers most of the Wasatch Front and south, are down about 5 percent from last year.
The Great Salt Lake and Utah National Parks councils collected a combined total of 1.1 million items in the Scouting for Food Drive, according to Dennis L. Crockett, Great Salt Lake Council volunteer chairman of the food drive.
Taking into consideration what residents faced with the snowfall last week and other factors, "we think they stepped up big time to the request for food . . . they displayed their generosity," Crockett said.
Fillmore has continued to receive calls from people wanting to donate, including a local farmer who wants to give 200 bushels of apples. He also is looking forward to food that will come in from the postal workers' food drive the second Saturday in May.
The effort on the food drive has been described as "monumental." The Great Salt Lake Council, which borders Kaysville on the north and Bluffdale on the south, and the National Parks Council, which covers troops from Lehi to the Utah/Arizona border, had a total of 33,000 Scouts and 13,000 adult leaders involved in the drive. They were helped extensively by the Utah National Guard, which provided transportation and other service.
"This is the best public relations the Scouts have with the community," said Paul Sabey, Food Drive coordinator from the National Parks Council. "This is where people see Scouts in action."
Sabey said 200 volunteers were on hand to unload the canned goods at the food bank.
Fillmore said the drive isn't complete. A few more troops will bring food in Saturday.
Over the past six years, the demand on area food banks has increased about 62 percent. Families who receive the donated goods also receive a variety of help and instruction on cooking and shopping.
Gwen Vance, of Provo Community Action, said families receiving assistance must also take classes. More than 25 classes are offered ranging from meal planning and nutrition, to using coupons and how to cook from scratch.
Crockett said plans are also under way to ask youths attending the annual Scout-O-Rama in early May to bring cans of food. As far as the rest of the state, the Trapper Trails Council, which has headquarters in Ogden, holds its food collection drive at a different time of the year.