The Utah Food Bank expects this year’s Feed Utah food drive to collect more than one million pounds of nonperishable donations, a positive development in a year that has seen food bank stores dwindling across the nation.

According to Axios, inflation and the rising cost of food have simultaneously increased the demand for food banks and made it less likely for consumers to donate to them. But Ginette Bott, president and CEO of Utah Food Bank, says Utah does not reflect this trend.

“I think we’re blessed to have the culture that we have here. People are willing to volunteer and willing to donate when we put out the call for help,” Bott said. “Compared to most food banks across the country, we’re in very good shape.”

The food bank’s annual food drive, which was held this year on March 16, aims to gather food for the estimated 317,000 Utahns who face food insecurity, according to the Utah Food Bank website. The food bank accepts donations throughout the year, but Saturday’s drive was a coordinated effort to build up the bank’s stores.

Utah residents were asked to place donations on their front porch by 9 a.m. on the day of the drive, and volunteers picked up the food and delivered it to a number of drop-off sites across the state. These sites included Utah Food Bank warehouses in Salt Lake, St. George, Springville and Blanding and a number of participating partner locations, including several buildings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all Macey’s Grocery, Harmons and Lin’s stores in the state.

The full amount gathered by the drive will be calculated over the next few weeks, but Bott said the food bank has already counted over 400,000 pounds of donated food. This puts the bank on track to collect close to the amount gathered in last year’s drive, which totaled 1.6 million pounds.

Bott noted that this year’s numbers may be slightly lower than expected, as a number of volunteers who had committed to pick up donations failed to appear for the drive. Anyone whose donations were not collected or who was unable to participate in Saturday’s food drive can still offer financial donations or drop off nonperishable food at any Harmons or Utah Food Bank location.

The Utah Food Bank estimates that 1 in 10 Utah kids struggles with hunger, and its direct-service programs and emergency food assistance services focus on aiding children and seniors. It is Utah’s only member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, food pantries and community organizations combatting food insecurity.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox declared March 16, 2024, as “Feed Utah Day” and voiced his support of the drive, according to a news release from the Utah Food Bank.

“Think about your children’s classroom with maybe 25 students, and the idea that potentially three of them will struggle with hunger throughout the week,” Cox said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Bott expressed her gratitude for the Utah Food Bank staff, volunteers and partners who made the drive possible.

“Hunger is an ongoing issue here in our state, and one entity can’t take care of all of them. It has to be a partnership and there has to be collaboration, and Utah Food Bank is so appreciative of everyone who participated on Saturday,” she said. “There were a lot of people that were involved that handled a lot of food. From the Utah Food Bank to all of them, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for their help in joining us in the fight against hunger.”