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OREM — A controversial campaign to bring in food for the needy is drawing some unexpected attention in Utah County.
Requests for emergency food help are up 40 percent in Utah, which is why plans for a massive food fight are drawing some concern.
Some business owners in Orem wanted a way to draw in large numbers from high school and college students for an event and came up with the food fight idea.
"What kid hasn't been in school and wanted to start a food fight?" said event promoter Dennis Sorensen. “And here's a controlled environment where they can do it and have fun."
But the first annual Utah Valley Food Fight website is drawing some concern. While it doesn't say anywhere that it is a charity event, organizers claim all of the proceeds will go toward feeding people in need.
"We feel that if we market this correctly, it could go to a huge worldwide effort,” organizer Curtis Mills said.
What kid hasn't been in school and wanted to start a food fight? And here's a controlled environment where they can do it and have fun.
Mills said he wanted to create an event that would draw in large crowds. He and his wife, Lexie Mills, said as soon as they started marketing a food fight, interest on Facebook turned viral.
"Everyone was talking about it, like ‘You need to shoot a commercial for it, do this for it. Can we do that for it?’ And we're like, 'Yeah, thanks for helping us out,' and it became even more amazing,” she said.
The foods used in the fight will be diluted, watered down and cheap — stuff like potato flakes, Jell-O and plain spaghetti.
"I'm talking about wasting minimal, cheap food, low quality, in order to raise a lot of quality foods for the hungry," Curtis Mills said.
"I think it's an excellent way to have people come together and go for a cause,” Lexie Mills said.
The food fight will be held Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It costs $5, and organizers will provide everything to throw. Pizza and crepes will also be available for $1. Following the food fight there will be a concert and dance afterward, which are free.
Organizers say they're spending about $500 on the food for the fight but expect to bring in about $6,000 for charities. Half of the proceeds will go to the Utah Food Bank and half to an unspecified charity for families in Mexico, they say.
About 400,000 Utahns risk missing one meal every day, according to the US. Department of Agriculture. The Utah Food Bank says September tends to be the lowest month for donations. The donations are distributed to more than 154 food pantries and agencies statewide. If you would like to make a donation to the Utah Food Bank, visit utahfoodbank.org.