Hundreds of food pantries throughout Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois hope the 26th annual “Scouting for Food” canned goods drive will replenish shelves with nutritious food. More than 30,000 Scouts from the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America will distribute more than 1 million bags on Saturday, Nov. 13, and return the following Saturday, Nov. 20, to collect the bags filled with canned goods.
As unemployment rates remain high and challenging economic conditions persist, many pantries report an unprecedented amount of requests for food. The demand for food isn’t isolated in urban areas. A recent report from the Brookings Institution found that 80 percent of suburban nonprofits are seeing families with food needs more than last year.
The United States Department of Agriculture uses the term “Household Food Security” when measuring the number of households that have adequate food. A 2008 report found Missouri to have 14 percent of households experiencing food insecurity, the sixth-highest rate in the United States. The national average was 12.2 percent.
“The St. Louis Area Foodbank’s network of pantries continues to report record requests for food assistance,” said Frank Finnegan, executive director of the St. Louis Area Foodbank. “Many pantries are having difficulty meeting the demand from so many people who have never needed help in the past. Scouting for Food is not just another food drive, it’s the largest food drive in the entire country—no one collects more food than our local Boy Scout Council—and this year we need them more than ever.”
More than 500 food pantries throughout the region have grown to rely on Scouting for Food and the generosity of the community to help stock their shelves before the holiday season and the cold winter months. Scouting for Food donations provide up to a four-month supply of food for some pantries.
“Scouting for Food is important to our community in several ways,” said Mike Zolezzi, the director of activities of the Greater St. Louis Area Council. “Hundreds of pantries throughout our region are dependent on our Scouts doing a good job. By completing this service project, they live out the Scout Slogan, "Do a good turn daily." Scouting for Food also is a simple way to teach our Scouts how they can help others. And when they see the results of hundreds of other Scouts collecting food, they realize their combined efforts can help hundreds of people.”
When Scouts in St. Louis City and County collect the donated food, it is brought to one of 46 fire stations where it is sorted and boxed. (Food collected outside of St. Louis City and County is taken directly to food pantries in those communities.) For the seventh consecutive year, Sunset Transportation, Inc., will transport the food from the fire stations to the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Sunset Transportation will move 55 truckloads of food in cooperation with dozens of truck drivers who donate their time, use their own trucks, and pay for their own fuel. Wells Fargo Advisors is this year’s campaign sponsor.