A Scout carries boxes of food at the drop-off location.

The Boy Scouts of America’s Greater Tampa Bay Area Council held a record-shattering Scouting for Food drive in February, with Scouts assembling more than 45,000 pounds of food for pantries across their nine-county territory.

Scouting’s Timucua District, which serves Southern Hillsborough County, helped lead the charge with 4,912 pounds collected. During the annual drive, youth are given the opportunity to choose which local food banks they wish to support within their communities. This year, Timucua District units elected to donate to Seeds of Hope, St. Anne’s Food Pantry, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and many others.

“Scouting for Food is a critical part of our Scouting culture,” Timucua District Director Kyle Molldene said. “Amidst the tragedy of COVID-19, the local Scouts have stepped up as servant leaders within their communities.”

Molldene referenced the century-old slogan of the Boy Scouts of America: “Do a good turn daily,” citing its timelessness in guiding the movement to this day.

Scouting for Food typically sees Scouts distribute door hangers throughout local neighborhoods, requesting that residents leave nonperishable food items on their doorsteps at a specified collection time. This year, some units even partnered with larger grocery stores to maximize their returns.

According to Jeremy Twachtman, who directed the Scouting for Food program in the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, this is the second year in a row that their food drive has broken the previous record. Furthermore, Twachtman said he is awaiting additional reports from several units, so the total is likely to increase. So far, 101 units across the council have reported results amounting to 45,056 pounds.

“For context, we had 113 units and 37,082 pounds of food reported in 2020,” Twachtman said.

Within Timucua District, Cub Scout Pack 61 reported having collected the most food with 1,200 pounds donated to the St. Andrews United Methodist Church food bank in Brandon. Volunteer Eric Brown said this drive was even more consequential than in years past, given the ongoing effects of COVID-19.

According to studies sponsored by Feeding America, Hillsborough County held a child food insecurity rate of 17 percent in 2018, and current events are believed to have exacerbated the crisis.

“Not everyone is lucky enough to keep their pantry full,” Brown said. “Being a food-hungry family is an issue in the Tampa Bay area. We talked a lot about that with our Scouts this year. I’m super proud of our boys and girls that they’re willing to go out there. It was a great event to see happen.”

For more information on the group, visit www.tampabayscouting.org.

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