TOOELE, Utah — With help from donations and community members giving their time and energy, James Hunter has grown his community food drive from when it first began a few years ago.
“Four years ago, I actually put a post out on Facebook that I wanted to help two families when I went to bed, and when I got up in the morning, I had like 15 families request a meal,” Hunter said. “And I’m like, ‘How do I pick who I should give this meal to?'”
Hunter’s food drive started with him helping out those two families. It grew to roughly 50 meals for families between Thanksgiving and Christmas the first year, then 250 families receiving meals last year.
“Our goal is to help everybody that needs one. We don’t ask any questions, no financial, we don’t say ‘We think you make too much, we’re not going to give you a meal.’ Anybody that says they need a meal, we try to provide a meal for,” said Hunter. “We have not yet once had to turn anyone away.”
Hunter and volunteers not only help gather donations, shop for food and box the food, but they also deliver the meals. This Thanksgiving, they’ll be putting together 150 food boxes. As of Monday, Hunter estimates they’re roughly 50% to their goal in donations.
“If it wasn’t for James, this wouldn’t be happening,” said Mckenzi Bridge as she dropped off a donation of potatoes on Monday. “It’s just an amazing feeling to finally be at, where we can help provide… When we weren’t able to, someone else was able to help us.”
Bridge and her family handpicked all the potatoes at a family farm in Idaho. Those potatoes will be going to families who need food this upcoming holiday season. However, this isn’t her first time participating in Hunter’s food drive.
“You really don’t see it unless you’re the one in the moment struggling,” said Bridge, who was a meal recipient over the past few years. “It really helped us out a lot and it gave my family Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners, and so since we had this option, I decided to give back and pay forward to other families that could really use it.”
Now, Bridge is on the other end of the food drive by donating to those who could use the food.
“Now I know why James does it — it’s really rewarding,” she said. “I don’t expect anything out of it all besides just knowing that we’re providing to people in our community.”
Anyone who would like to help with donations, deliveries or boxing up the food, or anyone in Tooele County who would like to request a food box this upcoming holiday season, can join Hunter’s Facebook group.