Aztec, Bloomfield and county donate to ECHO

City of Aztec claims traveling trophy for the third consecutive year

Hannah Grover
Aztec police Chief Mike Heal holds the traveling trophy Thursday at the ECHO Food Bank in Farmington after his city won an annual food collection competition among other local governments.

FARMINGTON – Every year, local governments compete to see which one can collect the most donated food for the ECHO food bank.

The winning government claims the traveling trophy – a Mr. Potato Head doll.

The competition began in 2007, when San Juan County's employees donated 2,934 pounds of food. At the time, the county was the only participant. Later, Aztec and Bloomfield joined the effort, and a traveling trophy was added in 2009. Farmington previously competed, but stopped after 2012.

This year, ECHO Food Bank weighed the more than 12,000 pounds of food donated on Wednesday and awarded Aztec with the trophy Thursday morning for the third year in a row.

The city of Aztec collected 3,083 pounds of food, or a total of 30.83 pounds per employee.

That total was less than that of the county, which collected 7,997 pounds. But the competition is judged based on how many pounds are collected per employee, and the county had 11.52 pounds collected per employee.

"It's a victory that I'm happy to see someone win," said Kim Carpenter, the county CEO, as he relinquished the trophy to Aztec police Chief Mike Heal.

Bloomfield took third place with 944 pounds collected, or 10.04 pounds per employee.

The donations were down this year from 2014, when the three entities donated more than 23,000 pounds of food.

In addition to collecting nonperishable items, the governments accepted monetary donations. Each dollar was worth three pounds, and the three entities brought in more than $2,600, meaning more than half of the "pounds" of food was from monetary donations.

The city of Aztec also donated 61 turkeys to help the food bank provide local families with a Thanksgiving dinner.

Heal said that as employees and community members heard about the food drive, they were eager to bring in donations because they knew how important ECHO's services are for the community.

"We don't know what we'd do with out you," Heal told the ECHO employees.

Vicki Metheny, who runs the food programs for ECHO, said the food bank sees increased donations in November and December due to the holidays.

"That's when people really start thinking about others," she said. "But we need food all year round."

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.