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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Ginette Bott of the Utah Food Bank looks over donations after a press conference announcing the upcoming 32nd annual Scouting for Food event at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Utahns are encouraged to participate by leaving a bag of nonperishable food items outside their front door on Saturday, March 17 by 9:00 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday ceremoniously made the first donation to the annual Scouting for Food drive benefiting the Utah Food Bank, regional food banks, and emergency pantries across the state.

The governor, flanked on either side by the National Guard and Boy Scouts, urged Utahns to contribute.

Utahns can leave on their doorsteps bags or boxes filled with nonperishable food items by 9 a.m. Saturday, and Boy Scouts assisted by the National Guard across the state will pick them up.

The 32nd annual statewide food drive comes at a critical time in the year when the Utah Food Bank and its partner agencies begin to see their stocks thin.

"We have the Utah Food Bank to help people" get through times when they don't have "adequate food in their lives," Herbert said.

"We certainly don't believe anybody should go without food," he said. "That's something we ought to eliminate from our society."

The Great Salt Lake Council, Trapper Trails Council and Utah National Parks Council have been working with local food banks for 32 years "to collect food on behalf of fellow Utahns who were facing hunger," said Patrick Neil, a First Class Boy Scout speaking on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America.

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"This Saturday morning, please consider placing a bag of nonperishable food items on your porch by 9 a.m. My fellow Scouts and I will come by and gladly take your donation to the local food bank or food pantry," he said.

Last fiscal year, the Utah Food Bank distributed 39.2 million pounds of food and goods — the equivalent of approximately 32.7 million meals — to families and individuals in need, the food bank reported.

"It is our goal in 2018 to reach 20 million total meals collected. That means we need every Utahn's help to collect enough food to equal 2 million meals," the young Scout said.