“Scouting For Food” Drive Hopes To Collect 100,000 Meals

Stacey Efaw, Executive Director of ECHO and Marc Sutherland of Feeding America Tampa Bay helped to distribute “Scouting for Food” bags at the Scouts’ kick-off of their annual food drive which will be held on February 19.

The United States Dept. of Agriculture  (USDA) reported in November that 14.2 percent of Florida households are food insecure, which means that they lack consistent access to a nutritious, well-balanced diet. With this in mind, the Boy Scouts of Gulf Ridge Council kicked off the “Scouting for Food” Drive earlier this month.
The Scouts will work to distribute 350,000 “Scouting for Food” bags. Scouts are asking residents to fill the bags with nonperishable food items such as canned meats, tuna, macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, canned fruits and cereal and put them on their doorstep on Saturday, February 19. The Scouts will gather all of the bags.
The food collected in the Greater Brandon area will go to the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in Brandon. According to Stacey Efaw, executive director for ECHO, “Our area has one of the highest numbers of applications for food stamps. ECHO is seeing an ever-increasing need for help.” Marc Sutherland, of Feeding America Tampa Bay, added, “We do not have a food shortage in this area. We have a food distribution problem.”
The Scouts have teamed up with Feeding America Tampa Bay to distribute the food. Feeding America Tampa Bay has pledged to match each pound of nonperishable food collected by the Scouts with a pound of fresh food such as meats, fresh vegetables and dairy.
Gulf Ridge Council Scouts hope to collect enough food to provide 100,000 meals to  needy area residents. According to Walt McKnight, the Scouts’ coordinator for this project, “It takes one-and-one-third pounds of food for one meal. We can reach our goal of providing 100,000 meals this year especially with Feeding America Tampa Bay’s commitment to match what we raise pound for pound.”
The annual food drive enables Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturers and Explorers to fulfill their “Good Turn” commitment to the community, and promotes Scouting’s effort to promote a culture of service to others. The timing of the food drive also helps food pantries such as ECHO replenish their shelves after the holiday season.
If you would like more information or want to contribute to the Scout’s efforts, you can call McKnight at 643-7343, the Scout Service Center at 872-2691 or visit www.boyscouting.com. If you would like more information on ECHO, please visit www.echofl.org. If you would like more information on Feeding America Tampa Bay, please visit www.feedingamericatampabay.org.