Many doorsteps in Charlotte will be graced with brown paper bags this weekend as Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts fan out across the city for the annual Scouting for Food drive.
In recent years, Scouts have collected 240,000-265,000 pounds of food for Loaves & Fishes, a Charlotte-based network of 20 food pantries.
“It’s just another great opportunity for us to be out in the community, and these young men have a chance to really see how they can help their neighbors,” said John Bittinger, Apache senior district executive for the Mecklenburg County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
“This community is so generous and has helped feed the hungry and help Loaves & Fishes stock their food pantry.”
This year, the Mecklenburg County Council is celebrating its 100th year of Scouting, and Bittinger said the countywide goal is to collect enough food to supply Loaves & Fishes through May, and have as many scout groups involved as possible. Scouts who participate this year will receive a special badge as part of a 100-year anniversary project.
Mecklenburg County’s Boy Scout program was one of the first in the nation, and it now has 300 units, almost 11,000 youth and 3,600 adult volunteers in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturing.
Bittinger said he expects that about 200 units will participate in Scouting for Food. Scouting groups have been assigned neighborhoods in Mecklenburg County to provide bag pick-up and drop-off.
Scouts participating in Scouting for Food were to spend Saturday morning dropping off brown paper bags at houses around Charlotte. A flier explaining the program is stapled to most bags.
Residents are asked to fill the bag with non-perishable food and leave it on their doorstep on Feb. 7. Scouts will return to collect bags that morning.
Scouting groups also will collect food donations at some churches on Feb. 8, and several collection sites will be open around Mecklenburg County 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Feb. 7 and 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. on Feb. 8.
Loaves & Fishes especially is looking for tinned meat, canned pastas, canned fruit, canned soups, cereal and 100-percent fruit juice, Bittinger said.