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Navajo Nation goes into lockdown as COVID-19 deaths rise, Live Mic: Helping Utah farmers and ranchers by feeding families, Navajo Nation reports 69 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths
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Live Mic: Helping Utah farmers and ranchers by feeding families

A sign reads "Navajo Monument Vally Tribal Park Closed Until Further Notice" posted at the entrance of Monument Valley in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah, on the Navajo reservation April 19, 2020. The reservation has some of the highest rates of coronavirus in the country. If Navajos are susceptible to the virus' spread in part because they are so closely knit, that's also how many believe they will beat it. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

SALT LAKE CITY — The coronavirus pandemic wiped out jobs, closed restaurants, hotels and schools. Suddenly, Utah farmers and ranchers were left with products they couldn’t sell to jobless consumers and shuttered businesses. Farmers Feeding Utah was born. Launched by the Utah Farm Bureau, it connects Utahns in need with safe, locally grown food.

Ron Gibson, president of the Farm Bureau, joins Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to talk about the “Miracle Projects” of Farmers Feeding Utah, which help farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19 and provide food and donations to needy Utah families. 

Farmers Feeding Utah was launched in partnership with Utah State University’s Hunger Solutions Institute, other hunger relief organizations and the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food, according to the Farm Bureau.

Two miracles

The first Miracle Project in late May and early June aided the Utah chapters of the Navajo Nation in southeastern Utah, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

During that time, the Utah Farm Bureau delivered 600 live sheep, about 16,000 pounds of frozen lamb and 10,000 pounds of Utah flour.

Priority was given to single parents, tribal elders, members with disabilities and members with military service, according to the Bureau.

“Having been down there, I was shocked at the need level,” Gibson said.

He said the second “Miracle Project” happened in Cache Valley, Utah.

“Cache Valley is a huge food hub for the state of Utah. We have a lot of our dairy processed up there,” Gibson said. 

He said $150,000 in food purchased from local producers — like potatoes, meat and eggs — were given away to about 550 Cache Valley families.

“They got awesome some food up there. The kind of food that we’d eat at our house for Sunday dinner,” Gibson said.

“What does it feel like to hoist a live sheep into the pickup truck of a member of Navajo Nation down in southern Utah?” Lee asked.

“Well, it was a lot of work. But when you shut the tailgate and look in the window of that person that is receiving that gift, and they have tears coming down both cheeks, it’s a humbling moment,” Gibson said.  

Gibson said many people who came to pick up food in Cache Valley still had a job.

“It’s a tough time to get through,” he said. “It’s cool to see people come together and make the small donations. It blesses people’s lives.”

Up next: helping refugees

“You have announced a third Miracle Project. This time you’ll be addressing the needs of refugee groups in Utah. Tell me in about 60 seconds what you’re up to,” Lee said.

“That one’s going to be in the Salt Lake Valley,” Gibson said. “Our goal is to come to the central part of the state in Salt Lake and really help those who are in need there. We just ask that you help us out. We promise you that every dime donated to this [Farmers Feeding Utah] goes to food produced and purchased from farmers and ranchers in the state and given to those who have food insecurities. There is no overhead over this project.”

Want to help bring about the next miracle? Visit  Farmers Feeding Utah to donate.

 

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.