OGDEN — An odd confluence of crime, COVID-19, charity and happenstance turned disaster into success this week at the Ogden Salvation Army.

First, the crime.

Someone broke into the Salvation Army Monday night and stole a bunch of things — including a large hoard of food the charity was planning to give away to the public on Wednesday morning.

Would you believe, said Matt Hargreaves of the Utah Farm Bureau, the burglars took “food that they were going to give away for free anyway.”

As a result, the Salvation Army’s charitable pantry was empty on the eve of its big community giveaway.

The endless complications of the coronavirus pandemic provide the next part of the story.

“When COVID-19 was getting going, the agricultural markets were disrupted,” said Hargreaves, a Farm Bureau vice president.

Suddenly, many farmers and ranchers had nowhere to sell their products. Some of it was thrown away or dumped.

So the Farm Bureau created its Farmers Feeding Utah program. Donors are sought to pay for the Farm Bureau buying products from farmers and ranchers.

The program then gives away those products to Utahns in need.

It just so happened there was a big Farmers Feeding Utah event at the Utah State Fairgrounds Monday night.

Hargreaves said thousands of pounds of food went to residents of Salt Lake City’s west side.

But after the event, there was half a semi truck load of food left. Hargreaves said the truck was heading back north, so the program sought help from its partners to find an ideal charity in the Ogden area to take the food.

He said Teresa Hunsaker of the Utah State University Extension Service office in Weber County called the Salvation Army and found out about the disastrous burglary.

Farmers Feeding Utah delivered to the Salvation Army enough food to feed about 400 people, Hargreaves said.

The Ogden delivery consisted of 5,000 pounds of carrots, 2,000 pounds of potatoes, 1,000 pounds of salami and 200 pounds of eggs.

Hargreaves said some of the food comes from out-of-state donors who have heard about the farmers program. He said the carrots were from California and the potatoes, of course, from Idaho.

He said the program gave away almost 132,000 pounds of food at the two events this week.

The program has received about $400,000 in donations so far this year, Hargreaves said.

Details about the break-in and the investigation were not available Thursday from the Ogden Police Department.

Efforts to contact Salvation Army Maj. Dan Wilson were not immediately successful.

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

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