Come Saturday, Boy Scouts as young as 6 years old will reap a harvest rich enough to feed the hungry through the winter months and the demands of the holiday season.
Across the nation and across town, scouts will go door-to-door collecting boxed, bagged and canned foods to stock the shelves at food banks.
The yearly event, called “Scouting for Food,” draws as many as 40,000 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturers, Explorers in the Bay Area. The participants hope to garner some 450,000 pounds of nonperishable foods.
“We don’t get donations during the summer, so we really depend on this drive” heading into the winter months and holidays, when needs go up, said Lisa Sherill of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
Clients range from families with young children to seniors, many of whom depend on the donations to meet basic nutritional needs. Sherill suggested peanut butter, canned meats, low-sodium canned vegetables, and canned fruits packed in juice – not syrup.
Last Saturday, scouts placed door-hangers on homes, promoting the drive and asking residents to have donations ready by 9 a.m. Nov. 17.
Residents who did not receive a door-hanger are not on a collection route, but they can still contribute by dropping off donations between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at various locations, or by checking for year-round drop-off points (in Martinez, those include the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District at 5019 Imhoff Place and Kaiser Permanente at 200 Muir Road).
“Even with 40,000 Scouts on collection routes, we can’t hit every doorstep," said Tim Buchen, director of support services for Boy Scouts of America. "So it’s critical that people help us out by dropping off food at their local site or participating in a Scout troop’s Virtual Food Drive.”
They won’t earn any badges – community service is expected of scouts, Buchen said – but the have plenty of fun.
Each month, hundreds of families turn to food banks for the first time, said Suzan Bateson, executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
“We’re bracing for our busiest holiday season yet,” she said.
Whole Foods Market, Safeway, Lucky, Mi Pueblo Food Center and Berkeley Bowl locations throughout the Bay Area have in-store barrels to accept donations for Bay Area food banks throughout the holiday season.
Area drop-off points include these:
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
4010 Nelson Ave.
Farm Bureau Hall
5554 Clayton Road
Oak Grove Latter Day Saints Church
2930 Treat Blvd.
Danville Latter Day Saints Stake Center
655 Old Orchard Drive
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
3776 Via Granada
Pleasant Hill Latter Day Saints Church
555 Boyd Road