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America’s Largest One Day Food Drive

Scouting For Food is the Greater St. Louis Area Council’s one-of-a-kind day of service. Thousands of Scouts, parents, and leaders hit the streets on a Saturday in November to distribute blue bags to the homes in their area. Community members fill up those bags with non-perishable food items, and the Scouts return one week later to pick up those bags and distribute them to local food banks and pantries. On average, we collect almost 2 million food items each year.

The History of Scouting for Food

The First Scouting for Food

In preparation for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the BSA in 1985, then Scout Executive and CEO Bob Meinholtz challenged his staff to develop a new and noteworthy program feature.

They seized upon the idea of a community-wide good turn to collect food for the needy. The council had never tried anything of this scope in the past, nor was it aware of any organization that had. Delivering collection bags to nearly every home in 11 counties and then collecting, compiling, and distributing an unknown amount of food seemed a daunting, perhaps impossible, task.

The initial success of Scouting for Food can be attributed to the leadership of Dennis Long and the Anheuser-Busch Company. They devoted considerable time and resources to making this ground-breaking idea a reality. Fire departments throughout the area enthusiastically came on board as collection sites, partner food pantries were identified, and the 892nd Transportation Company of the 102nd Army Reserve Command agreed to provide food transport through the St. Louis metropolitan area. That first year Scouts collected 750,000 cans of food.

A  Legacy of Service

What was intended to be a one-time service project quickly became our hallmark. The council's executive board determined that Scouting for Food is a perfect example of Scouting's values and set about to make it an annual affair.

In 1989, with St. Louis as a model, the Boy Scouts of America adopted Scouting for Food as a national BSA program and encouraged every council to participate.

Scouting for Food has continued annually since its beginning in 1985 as a signature service event throughout the now 63 counties served by the Greater St. Louis Are Council. In 2019 the drive collected approximately 1.9 million food items.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created a unique challenge to the drive, but Scouts were still able to make a big impact. Over $50,000 was raised via a text-to-give campaign, equalling approximately 200,000 meals provided to local families in need. We were also able to collect and donate over 145,000 food items to local pantries.

2021 Scouting for Food Drive Details

2021 Good Turn

2021 marks the Greater St. Louis Area Council's 36th annual Scouting for Food Good Turn, and it continues to be the largest single-day canned food drive in the United States. During its 35-year history, Scouts have collected more than 50 million cans of food.

The 2021 campaign begins on Saturday, November 13. Thousands of Scouts will go door-to-door distributing custom-made plastic grocery bags. On Saturday, November 20, Scouts return to those neighborhoods to collect the bags filled with canned goods. The timing of the campaign coincides with the spirit of giving and appreciation associated with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season.

What: An area-wide food drive conducted to support agencies that provide food to those in need. The Greater St. Louis Area Council operates this food drive in 60+ counties in southeast Missouri, southeast Illinois, and central Illinois. Thousands of Scouts and adult Scouters will collect food.

When: Saturday, November 13, 2021 – Bag Distribution Day
Saturday, November 20, 2021 – Food Collection Day

How: On a district-by-district basis, packs, troops, teams, crews, and posts are given geographic areas in which they distribute bags and, a week later, return to collect bags filled with canned goods.

Units deliver food to a central collection site -- a firehouse or a food pantry. Trucks transport food from firehouses to the St. Louis Area Foodbank for distribution through more than 400 member agencies.

Other Ways To Donate

Text-to-Give

You can donate directly to local pantries in your area by texting "ScoutFood" to 91999.  A $1 donation equals approximately four meals provided to those in need!

Drop Off Locations

The week after the drive, we are excited to have selected Raising Cane's and Lion's Choice Locations as drop-off locations. See a map of the drop-off locations on the page below!

Firehouse Involvement

Participating firehouses in St. Louis City and County provide space for food sorting and boxing on Saturday, November 20. On Saturday, November 20, Sunset Transportation, Inc. will coordinate the efforts of many donated trucks and volunteer drivers to collect all food at the firehouses and transport it to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

Local Food Pantries

In areas outside St. Louis City and County, units take collected food to a local pantry. Venturers and Explorers assist in shelving food or boxing it for storage.

Partner Agencies

St. Louis Area Food Bank
Fire Chiefs' Association
Sunset Transportation, Inc.
Operation Food Search
Local food pantries (outside St. Louis City and County)

2021 Drive Timeline

The First Week of October

Attend your district's roundtable meeting to receive your unit's territory map and allotment of SFF bags.

November 13th, 2021 - Bag Distribution Day

Assemble with your Pack, Troop, or Crew at a pre-determined location. All Scouts should travel in groups of two or more (the Buddy System). Break up your assigned territory and hit the streets!

Bags should be distributed to residences only, no businesses. Scouts should not enter apartment buildings. Scouts should not enter any homes and should not put the bags in mailboxes.

November 20th, 2021 - Food Collection Day

Please DO NOT begin collecting food before 10 am. This allows families time to place the food outside.

Have your groups cover the same area where they distributed bags. This will minimize the risk of homes being missed.

After thoroughly canvassing your assigned area take the collected items to your assigned drop-off location. Collection sites are open from 10:00 am to 4 pm.

Please drive through your assigned area by car in the early afternoon to collect any bags missed during morning pick up.

Scouting for Food Resources

2021 Scouting for Food Leader Guide

The 2021 Leader guide has all the information you need for a well-organized and successful drive. From best practices to ways to promote the drive in your community, you can find it in the leader guide.

2021 Scouting for Food Leader Guide

Help Spread The Word

Shareable Social Media Images

Help spread the word about the 2021 Scouting for Food drive on your social media accounts! Below are some sample verbiage and downloadable images that you can use to help us make this year's campaign even more successful!

Sample Post 1 - Week Before Bag distribution

“This Saturday, November 13th, Scouts and families throughout the area will be hitting the streets to distribute thousands of collection bags as part of the annual Scouting for Food drive. 

Keep an extra eye out to help keep them safe, and be sure to put your bag of canned goods out for them to collect one week later. 

You can learn more about the Scouting for Food drive at https://stlbsa.org/scouting-for-food/.”

Sample Post 2- Week Before Collection Day

“Scouting for Food collection is this Saturday, November 20th! Be sure to put your canned goods out by 10 AM and in a spot easily seen from the street.

Scouts and their families will be coming around to collect your donations and take them to a local sorting location or food pantry, so be careful on the roads! Thank you for helping to fight food insecurity in our region! 

You can learn more about the annual Scouting for Food drive at https://stlbsa.org/scouting-for-food/.”

Social Media Images

Simply click on the image, a new window will open, then right-click, and select "Download" or "Save Image to Downloads".

You Didn't Get A Blue Bag?

Did You Not Get A Blue Bag?

Our Scouts try to cover as much ground as possible, but hitting every corner of our 63 county footprint can be tricky.

Text-to-Give

You can donate directly to local pantries in your area by texting "ScoutFood" to 91999.  A $1 donation equals approximately four meals provided to those in need!

Drop Off Locations

The week after the drive, we are excited to have selected Raising Cane's and Lion's Choice Locations as drop-off locations. See a map of the drop-off locations on the page below!

2021 Scouting for Food Patch

Order your 2021 Scouting for Food patches here.

2021 Scouting For Food Patch

Thank you to the 2021 Scouting for Food Sponsors:

Cane's logo