The Scouting for Food program continued a remarkable, record-breaking streak in 2019 with 34,046 food items donated. This nearly doubled the number of items donated just three years earlier.
Although the coronavirus halted this momentum in 2020, local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops are eager to start Scouting for Food in 2021, especially with increasing levels of food insecurity in the community.
What Is Scouting for Food?
Scouting for Food is an annual food drive managed by local Scout troops, parents, and volunteers that benefits the Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) Food Pantry. Scouting for Food 2021 will be held on May 1, when about 100 scouts from Cub Scout Troops 141 and 142 and Boy Scout Troop 147 will bring donated food items to storage areas in Nutley. Scouts will distribute donated shopping bags to homes across Nutley one week prior to collection.
“Each Scout is assigned certain streets in Nutley,” said Walt Smith, who has been project chair of Scouting for Food since 2008. “Two years ago, Scouts gave out almost 9,000 bags and residents filled up about one-third of them for Scouts to collect. The response rate was extremely high.”
Once food items are collected, teams of volunteers count and sort the items and check for expiration dates before the food is delivered to the NFSB Food Pantry.
Why Scouts Are So Motivated to Help
Because of the financial hardship caused by the pandemic, demand at the NFSB Food Pantry is increasing. Scouting for Food is responsible for a high percentage of non-perishable staples distributed by the Food Pantry throughout the year.
“We emphasize to the Scouts that adults and kids like you and me don’t have enough food to eat,” Walt said. “They live in our town. They’re our neighbors. The kids respond to that and can’t wait to help. When I first got involved, my grandson, who was in second grade at the time, asked why he couldn’t do more. They really want to make a difference.”
The day of the collection and drop off is a sight to behold. A line of cars, each with 30-40 bags filled with food items, along with Scouts and families beaming with pride, deliver food to storage sites.
“Seeing the joy in the eyes of these kids is amazing,” Walt said. “They’re so excited to do their part to help, and I know the people who receive the food are grateful.”
How You Can Help
Nutley residents should expect to receive a donated shopping bag from a local Scout on April 24. Donations of non-perishable, unexpired items are appreciated. Scouts will then pick up bags on May 1.
Suggestions for food donations include tuna, canned chicken, soup, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, canned fruit, peanut butter, jelly, hot and cold cereal, coffee, tea, baby food, and canisters of oatmeal. Personal care items are also accepted.
“We are tremendously grateful for the continued support that the Nutley Scouts and community members provide to the NFSB Food Pantry,” said Katherine Carmichael, Executive Director of NFSB. “The Food Pantry relies on donations from this project to stock our shelves. Year after year, the Scouts and those who donate help to keep the pantry going to support our neighbors in need.”
Visit the Scouting for Food Drive page on the NFSB website to learn more about this year’s event!