Many think of winter as the time to donate food. However, for those in need, summer is especially difficult.
Myla Dutton, executive director of Community Action, said the summer is particularly bad for families with children because once school is out of session, they don’t have access to free breakfast or free or reduced lunches. This is a major reason behind the Scouting For Food Drive.
“The Scouting for Food Drive is one of our most important food drives of the year,” Dutton said. “It really brings in a substantial amount of food that we can use in the spring and summer, It’s typically one of the communities’ most successful food drives.”
She said this food drive is important to restock the food used since the holiday food drives.
Dutton said this works differently than a typical food drive. Boy Scouts distribute bags to their neighborhoods the week prior to the drive and ask their neighbors to put cans in the bag and leave it outside the night before pick up. Then the Boy Scouts return to pick up the bags.
Darryl Alder, director of Support Services for the Orem Boy Scouts office, said 900 units were involved in the service project, involving 6,500-7,000 Boy Scouts who helped distribute bags and collect them in Utah County alone.
“People seemed to be in pretty good spirits,” Alder said. “Some people had some problems because people had put their food out the night before and it was covered with snow.”
Alder said the Boy Scouts have participated in this program for more than 20 years. He also said it’s a good program because it touches every household as well as teaches the scouts the value of serving.
“Our slogan is to ‘do a good turn daily,’ and this is one we like to do every year,” Alder said. “It helps teach the boys the character trait of serving others, and we really like it as an organized effort.”
The service done through this program is important to many in Utah County. Dave Smith, the Community Action food bank manager, said this food drive has a huge impact for the spring and summer months. In Utah County alone there are 76,000 individuals dealing with food insecurity. This means these individuals don’t know when they their next meal will be or where they will get their food.
Smith said a lot of people affected by food insecurity are families. He said providing a means of food security for people is a stepping stone to help them become financially stable.
“By helping individuals who are striving to become self-reliant with their food issues, it gives them the ability to focus on other issues in their life, whether it be skills learning or job hunting,” Smith said.
Community Action’s food bank supplies other programs and 18 other outlets in three different counties with the food from food drives. This includes rest homes, food banks and schools. The organization’s goal was to collect 300,000 pounds of food, a number it has reached before, but hasn’t seen since the recession.
“Three-hundred-thousand pounds for a food drive seems like an awful lot, but if you think of our needs for the whole year, we need an excess of 5 million pounds,” Smith said.
Smith said community support has been great for both the holiday food drive and the Scouting for Food Drive; however, there will always be a need for food in the community and more that can be done.