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Mother Hubbard would feel right at home at the Utah Food Bank, where the shelves are going to be bare by midsummer if help doesn't arrive.

"It's not an empty warehouse, but it's pretty sad," said director Brenda Thompson. "We're going to be rationing protein products and fruit. We need dinners like stews and chilis and macaroni and cheese."They also have a critical need for baby formula.

A May 11 food drive by postal workers collected 70 tons of food - about half what was expected, Thompson said. While some parts of the state did very well, including Payson, Provo, American Fork and Springville, others such as Ogden, Salt Lake, Bountiful, Spanish Fork and Orem collected significantly less food than last year.

St. George letter carriers, however, collected a whopping 21,000 pounds of food, compared to 1,700 last year.

Organizers of the food drive believe it got lost in other activities that weekend, including the Olympic torch run, the Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio game and Mother's Day.

"Summer is going to be critical, because that's when the numbers go up for us," said Thompson. "During the holidays, we get lots of donations and people provide for their kids, regardless of what they have to do without."

She believes need doesn't actually go down in winter, but friends and neighbors are more apt to help families in crisis then. They just don't think about hunger in summer.

That's unfortunate, according to anti-hunger advocates, because during the school year many children at least get good nutrition through the school lunch program, which is not available to many of them during the summer.

The food bank stocks most of the state's emergency pantries, which provide a three-day food supply to households in crisis. Along the Wasatch Front, the bank provides meals to about 15,000 people a month. The rest of the state combined helps another 15,000 people, Thompson said.

While the postal carriers' drive didn't live up to their hopes, it provided a lot of food for people who would be in trouble, Thompson said, adding that the carriers deserve special thanks for being willing to collect food when they deliver the mail.