OGDEN — Farmers, police officers and other volunteers gathered Tuesday afternoon to distribute Thanksgiving meals to hundreds of needy families.

The event came about in a partnership between the Utah Farm Bureau’s Farmers Feeding Utah program and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, the sponsors said in a news release.

They said they hope the food giveaway will be the first of many “Cops & Crops” events.

“We thought this could be a neat way to showcase the unity of those wanting to help alleviate hunger and place a human face and a helping one on law enforcement,” Matt Hargreaves, spokesperson for the Utah Farm Bureau, said in an email before the event.

The Miracle of Agriculture Foundation, a Utah nonprofit formed in response to economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been coordinating similar events around the state.

“This is our sixth Miracle project, so we are super excited,” said Clayton Beckstead, foundation director, during opening statements via a video stream.

“We know there are plenty of food insecurities here in Weber County,” Beckstead said.

According to Weber State University, Weber County’s poverty rate is 13%, almost 1% higher than the state average.

Weber County Sheriff Ryan Arbon, Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt and Utah State University extension and college of agriculture leaders also spoke.

“The business of law enforcement is service to others,” Arbon said. “We are glad to have the ability here to serve those who stand in need.”

After a ribbon cutting, lines of cars proceeded through distribution points at the Weber County Fairgrounds.

Ron Gibson, Utah Farm Bureau Foundation president and a Weber County dairy producer, said the group expected 1,000 to 1,200 families would receive the makings of Thanksgiving dinner.

Volunteers handed out frozen turkeys, potatoes, stuffing mix, dairy products, apples and flour as well as recipes from the Create Better Health program, event sponsors said.

The Farmers Feeding Utah campaign has provided about 600,000 pounds of food to the needy with a retail value of more than $800,000, the group said in a news release.

Several months ago, it donated a semi-truck load of food to the Catholic Community Services food bank in West Ogden.

Donations to the Farmers Feeding Utah projects are used to buy, process and deliver food to families in need, giving both struggling farmers and Utah families a hand up, the organization said.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801-625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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