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Holladay Journal

Boy Scouts launch 38th annual statewide Scouting for Food Drive

Feb 29, 2024 01:28PM ● By Collette Hayes

“It’s great being at Smith’s with my friends and helping to provide food for those in need,” Life Scout Orion Ehrhart said. “Scouting provides a lot of opportunity to grow as a person.” (Collette Hayes/City Journals)

Utah State University Assistant Professor and Food Security Council Leader Palak Gupta reports that one in 10 Utah households experience food insecurity, and more than 102,000 Utah families do not have the resources to buy enough food. To address food insecurity in Utah, Crossroads of the West Council, a local council of the Boy Scouts of America, launched its 38th annual statewide Scouting for Food Drive in February.  

A kickoff event was held on Feb. 8 in the Teen Center at Cottonwood High School in Murray. The event sponsors, Bank of Utah, Red Hanger Cleaners, Souper Bowl of Caring, Young Automotive, Arctic Circle, Utah National Guard, and Smith’s Food and Drug joined together in launching the annual event and asked the public to help fill the state pantries with nutritious and nonperishable canned and boxed foods. Each of the sponsors actively supported the event by donating bags to customers, publicizing the food drive and acting as a collection site for donors. 

“Today, we will mobilize over 400 Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Venture Crews to provide for 16 community food pantries across the state of Utah,” Crossroads of the West Council board member Ben Taylor said. “We will also ask customers for food donations at 53 Smith’s Food and Drug stores statewide on Feb. 10. We are grateful to the Utah National Guard for playing a valuable role on this day by providing the equipment and the workforce to pick up hundreds of pounds of food and deliver it to the food pantries.” 

Boy Scout Jaren Roberts opened the event by reading a declaration by Utah’s Gov. Spencer J. Cox declaring Feb. 10 through March 2, 2024, as Utah’s Scouting for Food Drive to actively address food insecurity in Utah. The drive came at a needed time when food supplies at local food banks were beginning to thin, primarily due to the holiday season. 

According to Lorna Koci, Scouting for Food chair member, last year, the drive collected over 100,000 pounds of food for Utahns experiencing food insecurity in 2023. This year, the Boy Scouts throughout Utah hoped to gather even more food in an ongoing effort to fight hunger in Utah.

The teen center at Cottonwood High School is a safe space where students struggling with basic needs can do laundry, shower, study, receive food from the adjacent food pantry, and connect with mental health specialists and housing resources. Assistant Superintendent Leslie Bell provided a glimpse of the district's ongoing need.  

“Granite School District is the third largest district in the State of Utah, serving over 58,000 students,” Bell said. “About 4.7% of our population, which is about 2,700 students, qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Also, we have about 1,600 students who are experiencing some level of homelessness in their communities. The teen center and the student pantry, which exist side by side at Cottonwood High School, are what it takes to support our students in 2024. We are grateful to the Crossroads of the West Council and the Boy Scouts of America and their desire to continue to support our youth and families across the entire state of Utah.”

Brighton High School student and Life Scout Orion Ehrhart, Scout Troop 197, welcomed Smith’s Food and Drug shoppers on Feb. 10 at the store on Bengal Boulevard. As customers entered the store, Ehrhart encouraged them to donate food to the drive and provided information on needed items. 

“It’s great being at Smith’s with my friends and helping to provide food for those in need,” Ehrhart said. “Scouting provides a lot of opportunity to grow as a person. My astronomy merit badge so far has been my favorite badge to work on. Personal fitness was the most difficult merit badge for me because I had to provide daily updates tracking my physical fitness progress over three or four months. I think everything I have to accomplish to achieve Eagle rank will definitely help me to achieve my future goals.”

Scouting provides opportunities for youth to build essential life skills, such as long-term friendships, academic skills, citizenship skills, ethics and leadership skills.  

“The Boy Scouts of America is a wonderful program for young men and young women to be involved in from Logan to St. George,” Koci said. “Helping to feed the needy provides character-building opportunities for our young people. There are openings in all 400 scouting units for those interested in joining a local pack or troop.”

If you are interested in receiving more information about the Scouting for Food Drive or the Crossroads of the West Boy Scout Council, visit λ