RE: Scouting for Food
Bruce B. Harper (BHARPER@VTVM1.BITNET)
Thu, 17 Dec 1992 15:09:49 EST
On Wed, 16 Dec 1992 09:04:10 EST Fred Rogers said:
>Recently, I asked for information about the results of last month's
>Scouting for Food drive. I received several responses which indicated
>that some councils are doing it in the spring and some not at all.
>. . .
>The volunteers in our district feel that this is too important
>and we can't afford to drop the ball.
Here in Blacksburg, Va., there is a mixed response to the Scouting for
Food drive, for various reasons.
About 5 years ago, a number of churches in town saw the problems of
several individual churches running their own food programs (mainly the
problem of a handful of individuals who were milking the system by
making the rounds of the churches on a regular schedule). The Interfaith
Food Pantry was formed as a cooperative effort to improve the program.
There is one food pantry in town, staffed by volunteers from the
participating churches. There is a limit on how often a family can visit
the food pantry and information is coordinated with the New River
Community Action office to ensure that those being served have a true
need (and are aware of other aid programs available to assist them).
In Christiansburg, the other town in Montgomery County, there is one
food pantry operated by the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program
(MCEAP). The two food pantries work together and share food when necessary.
MCEAP also works with Community Action, so the whole program is coordinated.
There is also the annual Montgomery County Christmas Store (this was its
10th year of service), which is all-volunteer. Clothing, household goods,
toys, etc. are collected in October and November, funds are solicited and
raised through various programs and projects, and buyers look for bargains
on purchases of toys, small appliances, blankets, and food. For three
days in December, eligible families can shop at the store so they can
"have Christmas with dignity." The store grew out of efforts to
coordinate who got assistance during the holidays, since many churches
and organizations did individual food baskets and toys for kids programs.
This year, the Christmas Store served over 1,000 families in Montgomery
County, who were granted a certain amount of "points" with which to shop.
They could split their points to "buy" toys or clothes for their children.
Each family could also choose an appliance (toasters, mixers, etc.) or a
household item (a blanket, sheets, a silverware set, etc.). Every family
had a chance to go through the food section and select canned goods (x cans
of vegatables, x cans of soup, etc. [as an aside, why do people donating
food give so many cans of beans?]). Each family also gets a bag of
groceries with some staple items, oranges, a small canned ham or a turkey,
potatoes, etc. so they have the fixings for a nice Christmas dinner.
(I am getting to the Scouting part--it is just that the Christmas Store
is such a great program that has received national attention and it is a
good model for other communities to use to coordinate assistance. If
there is an interest, I can provide names of people to contact--after the
holidays--for information on how to set up and run a Christmas Store.)
Now to support the food pantries and Christmas Stores, many organizations
have food drives. Several of the Scout troops did participate in the
Scouting for Food program in November. Fraternities and sororities here
at Virginia Tech collected food, mainly through canned food collections
at home football games. Other people brought food to the Christmas Store
When my wife and I were advisors for the senior high youth group at
Northside Presbyterian Church, we started a "Drive for Food" program
that ran in the fall. The project had a multiple purpose (anyone
interested is free to use the idea). The senior highs were given a list
of members from the church that they had to call. They were to tell each
person that they called that if they wanted to participate, they could
leave a bag of food outside their door (participation was voluntary and
no one was pressured to put out food). In addition to putting the youth
in touch with members, it also was a contact from the church to members
who didn't make it to Sunday services on a regular basis. Then on the
day of the collection, parents with cars were matched up with kids and
a list of members and send forth to spend Sunday afternoon "driving for
food." The kids got an idea of some of the places that church members
lived and we brought in a lot of food to deliver to the food pantry. We
found that on one afternoon we would collect more food that would be
brought in over several weeks of a regular "bring your food donations to
church" food drive.
After the first couple of years, it was discovered that mid fall was
not the best time to have a food drive, not from the collection
standpoint but from the food pantry's needs. There was a large volume
of food that was collected in the fall and close to the holidays, because
that is when people traditionally think of donating food. The "Drive
for Food" is now a spring event to restock empty shelves at a time when
food donations are not usually thought about. To go along with this
model and avoid competition with all the other troops and groups collecting
food in the fall, Pack 56 and Troop 56 (both sponsored by Northside) will
be collecting food in the spring and donating it to the Interfaith Food
Pantry. This will work out for the better here, because then the
pantry will get a boost going into the summer months, which is sometimes
a rough period for keeping the shelves stocked.
So, we do participate in Scouting for Food in our pack, but just on a
slightly different schedule than everyone else.
Assistant Webelos Den Leader, Committee Member--Pack 56, Blacksburg
Administrative Display System Bruce B. Harper, Manager
130 Smyth Hall, Institutional Research
Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0433
BHARPER@VTVM1 (BITNET) or BHARPER@VTVM1.CC.VT.EDU (Internet)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City