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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Food Bank is reporting a record December and still wants more donations with less than two weeks to go before Christmas.
More than 300,000 pounds of food came in Saturday, filling the Utah Food Bank's warehouse in Salt Lake City. But the total is still only halfway to its goal of 600,000 pounds during the Christmas food drive.
"We still have some work to do through the holidays, but this has made a huge difference," said Sara Beckstead, development director for the food bank.
The donations bring the food bank much closer to its goal of collecting 1.5 million pounds of food for the Salt Lake area and another 1.5 million for the rest of the state before the end of the year.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged members last week to donate food. The message was apparently received.
"The response is obviously amazing," Beckstead said as the donations piled up Saturday. "Our forklifts have been going all day long."
A week ago, the food bank had only 80 percent of what it had at the same point last year. And a November drive brought in only 8 percent of what it normally does. With food requests up 21 percent during the first six months of 2004 compared to last year and donations down, food bank employees were concerned.
The LDS support was an even bigger help than expected for the drive.
"We were, of course, very curious to see what would happen," Beckstead said. "And then, this morning, at all of our pantries the cars were lined up. The parking lots were full.
"It just so happens that a large majority of Utahns are involved in one particular church. And we feel very fortunate to get that kind of endorsement."
The holiday season provides about half of the food supply for the whole year and is critical for the food bank.
"It's overwhelming. Amazing," she said of Saturday's donations. "This is going to be one of the biggest days ever."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)