Scouting for Food
In the Law of the Pack, a cub scout gives good will and in the Boy Scout Promise, a boy scout promises to help other people at all times.
By participating in a Scouting for Food program, scouts come a step closer to fulfilling those words.
Across the country, in many councils and districts, thousands of troops and packs with millions of scouts involved collect tens of millions of pounds of food which is distributed to needy neighbors. If your troop or pack is not involved in a local program, or if there is not a program in place, this is a great opportunity for you to help improve your scouting program.
The first step in getting your unit involved in a food drive is to find a Scouting For Food Chairman - someone that will organize and promote the project and be a liaison between your unit and district. Once that person is identified, it is easy to plug into an existing district or council program. If you want to start up a new program, the following is how it usually works:
- Bags are distributed to homes with instructions on pick-up date - usually the next weekend.
- Full bags are collected.
- Bags are delivered to food bank.
General guidelines for organizing your unit's Scouting for Food program:
- Contact local food bank to make sure they want help
- Identify source of bags - a local supermarket possibly
- Define date for drive, probably a Saturday - fall is popular, but spring is a time when many food shelves are low
- Determine how many scouts will participate and how many adults will be available to drive when picking up food
- Determine how many homes can be covered in buddy teams - in single home neighborhoods, about 175-200 houses can be handled in 2 hours
- Determine number of bags needed
- On a city map, mark out what area your unit will cover
- Divide the area into smaller sections for teams to choose
- Make maps and sign-up sheet available at unit meetings prior to event
- Create instructions to include with distributed bags
- Distribute bags and instructions to scouts before event - scouts should staple instructions to bags
For a smooth running food collection program, remember these tips:
- Have patrol or den leaders call to remind scouts the night before distribution and collection.
- Assemble all scouts and adults at 8:45am to receive final instructions before distributing and collecting bags.
- All scouts wear uniforms when distributing and collecting bags
- Scouts stay in buddy teams
- Begin distribution and collection after 9:00am, not earlier
- Hang the bags on front door - do not knock, but if the resident is outside or greets you, explain the program
- Before the collection date, post reminder signs at entrances to main neighborhoods and at key intersections.
- It takes more time to distribute bags than to collect bags, so one collection team can cover two distribution team areas.
- Only collect visible bags - do not knock or ask for bags.
- Have a couple of 'Clean Up' teams to cover the entire area after the collection teams have completed. These Clean Up teams drive the area looking for any missed bags and signs to ensure complete coverage.
Whether on a distribution team, collection team, or clean up team, each time commitment will be about 2 hours. This is a great excuse to get out and hike a couple miles while performing service to the local community. Your scouts will be amazed at how much food they will collect if this is a new event for your unit. It is a tangible example of the generousity of people in your town.
Dec 08, 2013 - Camille
Every year I receive a plastic bag in my mail box for food donations from the Cub/Boy Scouts. The last bag said to leave the bag out by 9:00am 3/19/16. This is the 2nd or 3rd time that I have left food out in these bags and no one comes to collect it. What gives? If the scouts only go to certain zip code areas then they should send the plastic bags to only those zip code area. I'm done with helping.
First, every unit decides whether to participate, to what level, and how they will handle their area. They hopefully coordinate with adjacent units to maximize coverage & avoid duplication.
Second, managing an area is not a trivial task for volunteers and youth. The comment above about 'scouts going downhill' is unfair and unwarranted simply based on a few reports of (understandably) frustrated individuals. Methods of addressing missed houses is a necessary part of this process. Our bags have the local council contact info along with the note like the one above: 'if we missed your bag contact us to come get it or feel free to deliver it to a local food pantry'.
Third, some units have boys cover their streets/neighborhoods. Others canvas whole towns. My unit has the manpower to distribute 2-3000 bags, and this past year collected ~2400lbs of food for the local shelter during a 'dry spell' between holidays.
We section off neighborhoods & streets on an area map and assigns them to baggers for drop off day. Next week we assign the same zones to collectors. Sometimes side streets, individual houses get missed. Sometimes we can't see the bag. 1 block missed this year. 4 pickup emails/calls were received for that and a few other houses
Contact your local unit/council. They don't know you were missed if you don't tell them
If you hand out bags, you have to spend the time, even if it takes days, to cover those neighborhoods to get the cans, even if it only means one can collected.
When you hand out a bag, you make a commitment to come back and collect the food. Keep your word.
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