Scouting for Food drive collects nearly 12 tons of food in one day

Courtesy photo: Colton Cub Scouts P-42 at the Grand Terrace Stater Bros. on Saturday Oct. 10 collecting donations for the annual Scouting for Food drive.

On Saturday October 10th the Boy Scouts of America collected 23,290 pounds of food to support seven local food pantries in the Inland Empire communities from Rialto and Grand Terrace to Banning Pass along the I-10 corridor.

The Gray Arrow District Boy Scouts primarily collected donated non-perishable food items from shoppers at 22 participating grocery store entrances. Selected Stater Bros., Albertsons, and Vons were the larger grocery stores in the greater San Bernardino Valley up into Banning Pass areas. The smaller family owned Gerrards store in Redlands joined this support effort too as well as two Grocery Food Centers in Grand Terrace and San Bernardino. Some other stores are donating pallets of food during the last week of October to increase this year’s program.

Local families, friends and neighbors enthusiastically support the Scouts doing a meaningful “Good Turn” for our communities by donating food items intended for needy families that reside in local communities, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Scouting for Food has been an annual “Good Turn” community service for America, performed by Scouts of all ages in the California Inland Empire Council since 2001. Collected food items are distributed to food pantries of local non-profit agencies including the San Bernardino and Redlands Salvation Army Service Offices, the Family Service Association of Redlands, its Yucaipa Outreach Project, as well as Yucaipa Family Assistance and H.E.L.P. in Banning Pass. In addition, donated food items are given to the Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House in Loma Linda for the fourth year now using their unique food list of needs. These agencies all provide emergency assistance that includes food distribution and other needed services to needy or disadvantaged and transitional families.

On October 10, between 8 AM and 4 PM, when local residents went shopping for groceries, Scouts in uniform gave them a printed list of suggested food items most needed by these service agencies as customers entered the stores. Residents purchased food items, sometimes only a few cans, but once in a while whole grocery cart loads were donated as smiling customers exited the store. Scouts, parents and leaders were wearing protective masks this year due to the COVID-19 safety guidelines. Social distancing was demonstrated by scouts, leaders and parents as they stood ready to receive food donations.  Collected food was sorted, weighed and delivered to seven different local community agencies by Scouts, their parents, and adult Scout leaders of the Gray Arrow District, California Inland Empire Council, Boy Scouts of America. Young Marines sponsored by the Redlands Elks Lodge joined with scouts this year for this community service for the first time to expand our ability to meet pantry needs.

The area served by these agencies includes Rialto, Colton, Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Redlands, Mentone, Yucaipa, Highland, Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks, Beaumont, Calimesa, Banning, and San Bernardino. Food is especially needed this time of year as the weather cools off and winter storms and Santa Ana conditions arrived. The pantries of these charities are at their lowest before the holidays. This year the food pantries needs have been compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic effects on families creating a greater need than ever before.

The details for actual food donations this year are as follows: Loma Linda’s Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House received 3236 lbs plus a $100gift card, something that fits right into their program needs. The Highland Food Center for both the San Bernardino and Redlands Salvation Army units garnered a whopping 9906 lbs plus a $40 gift card. The Redlands Family Services Association came in with a doubling of donations this year up to 6300 pounds, a really nice increase in giving. The two Yucaipa food pantries together received 3.848 pounds of food this year to help replenish their empty shelves.

Additional food not collected on October 10th is being donated by two community grocery stores to H.E.L.P. in Banning this week which will increase our fall collection efforts down in the valleys. Our Mountain scout units in Lake Arrowhead area will be collecting the second weekend of November to close out this fall  program for an 8th food pantry, which should take us closer to 30,000 pounds, if not exceeding this goal.