SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The number of Utahns facing hunger skyrocketed in the pandemic and has remained high, making the need for food drives more important than ever, according to the Utah Food Bank.

The statewide Feed Utah food drive took place today, Mar. 18, collecting donations to feed those suffering from food insecurity across all 29 counties. Faith leaders and community volunteers picked up food donated by residents across the state who placed non-perishable items on their porches this morning.

While hunger in Utah increased significantly during the pandemic, the effects of inflation have caused it to remain high, according to Governor Cox. The Utah Food Bank estimates that 1 in 9 children currently face hunger in Utah.

“My wife and I, when we were starting out two little kids still in school trying to make ends meet, it was a real struggle for us and there’s nothing wrong with needing help, asking for help, in fact, there’s something special about knowing you’re getting help,” Governor Cox said in a press conference earlier this week.

While food drives are common during holiday seasons and other important events, Utah Food Bank President and CEO Ginette Bott emphasized the idea that food insecurity is not just a holiday problem.

“During the holiday season, people love to give, on a special day like today, people love to give. You’ll see school projects or church projects, but every single day someone is hungry in Utah,” Bott said.

The event was run by Utah Food Bank workers, representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and community volunteers who worked together to collect, organize, and distribute food donations. Macey’s Grocery and JustServe also helped sponsor the event.

“One group can’t do it all, it takes all of us and we need to work diligently throughout the year, not just today,” Bott said.