Thirty years ago, while I was the program director for the then-Hiawatha Council in Syracuse, N.Y., I supported the chairman of a new effort that had just been announced: Scouting for Food.
The BSA had identified hunger as one of five “unacceptables” in our society. We were going to Do a Good Turn and address that need. When Scouting for Food started, I had no idea what that project would become.
Since it was our first year of the project, we couldn’t predict how much food would be collected. We took a guess and organized a fleet of 18-wheelers with potato bins to collect the donated goods. Well, it turns out there’s a reason I didn’t have a career in logistics. The potato bins were overwhelmed quickly, so we tucked food anywhere we could in those trucks. Then came 48 straight hours at the food bank, where staff and volunteers sorted through the donations that had emerged from people’s cabinets and boxed up all the food we’d collected. It was an overwhelming and humbling response from the community.
Today, Scouting for Food has grown into a major legacy program for many of our councils. The spirit of giving I witnessed during that first food drive has spread and multiplied through communities across the country, meeting the needs of hundreds of thousands of families and teaching generations of Scouts to be instigators of community action.
Our Scout Oath calls on us all “to help other people at all times.” Scouting for Food is one of the many ways that Scouts do that, and it holds a special place in the Scouting experiences of many, myself included. In this issue, you’ll meet some of the Scouts and Scouters making this annual goodwill adventure possible. You’ll get a sense of the magnitude of the impact this initiative has had on food insecurity in communities nationwide.
Organizing Scouting for Food drives each year takes an enormous team effort. This act of service is a reminder of the power and importance of Scouting to our communities and also serves to demonstrate to those outside our program that Scouting is more than just outdoor adventure. It’s about developing character in youth so they can make a difference in the many places they call home.
To all of you who have made Scouting for Food possible through the years by organizing or giving, thank you for answering the call to serve. I hope you’ll continue participating in this worthy tradition for many years to come.
Yours in Scouting,
Chief Scout Executive