With the demand for food pantry assistance continuing to increase due to the area’s high unemployment rate, The Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America is urging residents throughout Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois to help needy families by contributing what they can during the 25th annual “Scouting for Food” drive, which will be held Saturday, November 14, and Saturday, Nov. 21.
About 500 Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois food pantries have grown to rely on Scouting for Food to spark community giving to help stock their shelves before the fast-approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and the cold winter months. Scouting for Food donations of canned goods and non-perishables provide food pantries in the region with a supply that lasts up to four months.
“The need has never been greater in the 25-year history of our ‘Scouting for Food’ campaign,” said John Primrose, scout executive and chief executive officer of the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. “The demand at local food pantries here has increased 12 to 13 percent in just the past year alone, and with the region’s unemployment rate now exceeding 10 percent, many folks simply need a helping hand more than ever.”
Primrose said he has been told by some pantry operators that “many folks who used to donate food are now standing in line to receive canned goods and non-perishables for their families.”
“We’re urging everyone to be as generous as they can when roughly 30,000 local Scouts come by their homes, drop off 1.3 million plastic ‘Scouting for Food’ bags, and pick them up a week later, on Saturday, Nov. 21,” he said. “The canned goods and non-perishables will be distributed almost immediately to 500 community food pantries to help needy families across the region.”
Residents are asked to fill their Scouting for Food bags with nutritious canned goods and other non-perishables, and put the filled bags on their doorsteps for pick-up by the Scouts on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Last year, Scouting for Food collected nearly 2.2 million items, about a 6-percent increase over 2007. Since the annual drive began in St. Louis 25 years ago, Scouts from the Greater St. Louis Area Council have collected more than 39.4 million cans of food.
“Food supplies in the local pantries usually run low in winter months, so we rely on Scouting for Food to maintain an adequate food supply over the winter,” said Frank Finnegan, executive director of the St. Louis Area FoodBank, which will receive and redistribute donations from St. Louis City and County. “Because it collects so much, Scouting for Food has become a critical source of the nutritious products needed to feed the hungry in our local communities.”
Food collected outside of the St. Louis region will go directly to pantries in those communities.
For the sixth consecutive year, Sunset Transportation Inc. will be working with the 30,000 Boy Scouts and 10,000 Scout leaders and their families to transport the collected food. Sunset Transportation’s staff and independent truck drivers will again transport more than 55 truckloads of donated food to the St. Louis Area Food Bank, from 46 drop-off points at local fire stations. The campaign relies on dozens of truck drivers who give their time and provide their own fuel and independently-owned trucks.
Page 2 of 2 - “While the Scouts should be very proud of this program’s 25th anniversary – which otherwise would call for a celebration – they’re setting the celebration aside and, instead, focusing on really helping our needy families throughout the region,” said Sunset owner Jim Williams, who also helps direct logistics on collection day. “We’re especially proud to again be working with the Scouts throughout the area to help them accomplish this mission, which is more important than ever before.”
Scouting for Food was started 25 years ago in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America with the guidance of the United Way of Greater St. Louis and other civic leaders. The 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America will be celebrated next year, and ‘Scouting for Food’ – now conducted by Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts across the country — has been a crucial program for a quarter of the organization’s lifetime.
In addition to Sunset Transportation, the Scouting for Food campaign is supported by St. Louis area fire departments, the local Fire Chief’s Association, and Wells Fargo Advisers.
For more information on the Scouting for Food campaign, please click here. Visit blog.stlbsa.org to view a digital scrapbook of memories and photos from families and grown-up scouts looking back fondly on early Scouting for Food campaigns in the St. Louis region.
About the Greater St. Louis Council of the Boy Scouts of America
The Greater St. Louis Council, Boy Scouts of America, is the foremost youth-serving organization in our community that develops character, citizenship and fitness. The Council serves more than 66,000 young people in 37 counties in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois. For more information on Scouting, please visit www.stlbsa.org.