Boy Scouts across the region hauled in two million food items during their 28th annual food drive, Scouting for Food, today.
About 30,000 scouts in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois stretched out across the region today to pick up donations left in one million bags that were distributed last week. Forty-two fire stations in St. Louis City and County served as collection sites for food that will be sent directly to the St. Louis Area Food Bank to be distributed to 500 food pantries.
Spokesman for the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boys Scouts of America, Joe Mueller, says food donated elsewhere in the region will go straight to local food pantries.
Mueller says in addition to supporting food pantries, the annual drive can foster a sense of community involvement at a young age.
“They look and see what all the other families are collecting, and all the other Cub Scout packs,” Mueller says. “They see that they are part of a bigger machine, if you will. And if their little part contributes to that much success; that instills a lifetime of service, a lifetime of helping other people.”
Mueller adds that people can still drop off cans for the food drive at all Regions Bank locations through the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The drive comes at a time when the St. Louis Area Food Bank says it has received about three million fewer pounds of food from the federal government this year.
The food bank’s Executive Director, Frank Finnegan, says rising food costs are largely to blame for the decline. With less food from the federal government, Finnegan says food drives like the one held this weekend by the Boys Scouts take on even greater importance.
“What they’re collecting are shelf stable canned goods, items that you can make a whole meal with,” Finnegan says. “So, we’re talking about canned soups, canned stews, sometimes tuna and other items like that, that are normally not donated to us throughout the rest of the year.”