Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scouting for Food

** I wrote this this morning, but had to leave before prettying it up. I did not anticipate that I wouldn't come home between work and the meeting, and now it's after midnight. However, since I did write this this morning I think it counts as a post for 11/14.**

Scouting for Food
is coming up this weekend. As a citizen I'm not familiar with this program but as a food bank person, I've come to know a lot about it.

The Boy Scouts of America have food drives at different times of the year, and this year in northern California it is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. In the past, the BSA has put printed paper bags on porches, but this year they'll be doing doorknob hangers (you may have already found one on your doorknob this week). The hope is that people will put a grocery bags of nonperishable goods (read: cans, pasta, rice, cereal) on their porches. The Scouts will pick up the bags and give them to local food banks. The SF Bay Area Council, through the Scouting for Food Drive, is the largest donor of canned goods to food banks in the Alameda and San Francisco Counties. Including ours, which is the recipient of all food collected on the island of Alameda.

The Scouting for Food Drive basically gives our food bank enough nonperishable goods to last us through March.

I have mixed feelings about the BSA, because of their anti-gay and anti-atheist national policies (though I've heard of troops that ignore them in practice). I am also not completely comfortable with single-sex organizations. At the same time I have known former Scouts who feel BSA helped make them who they are today and families who appreciate the activities and socializing that their Cub Scout troop provided their sons. Also, Scout troops often do good things for the communities, like park and beach cleanups and food drives - not to mention keeping kids off the streets.

It must be said that at least in Alameda, the Boy Scouts' Scouting for Food Drive should be called the Youth Food Drive. Several organizations of youth are participating, including Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., and Red Cross Youth. There aren't enough Boy Scouts in town to handle this project on their own, and it gives other youth an opportunity to participate in the community.

If you miss the food pickup, you can always drop your sack of goods into the barrels that are appearing in grocery stores all over the country. I know from observation that wintertime is a tight time for folks, which is why we've gotten so much busier at the food bank. Less work and more non-negotiable cash outflow (for heat, for lights, for transportation) are all part of winter for the working poor and the disabled.

Think about participating, and I hope you do. Your neighbors need your help, though they would probably not tell you so.

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