Annual Scouting for Food drive brings in much-needed donations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Boy Scouts hit the streets Saturday morning collecting donations for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

The annual “Scouting for Food” event is a big part of the Food Bank’s efforts to combat hunger in Rhode Island, and this year was the 29th year the Scouts have pitched in.

“The reach is huge,” said Boy Scout Senior Patrol Leader Andrew Bettencourt. “We go out a week in advance, we put out these door hangers and a week later we come back and find tons of bags of cans and boxed goods, and we bring them back here to the food bank.”

According to Rhode Island Community Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff, some 59,000 people depend on the food bank for help each month.

WPRI volunteers at the RI Community Food Bank Saturday.
WPRI volunteers at the RI Community Food Bank Saturday.

“We haven’t seen the need diminish that much, even as the economy has been improving there are still lots of people who are working but are not earning enough to be able to afford adequate food,” he said Saturday.

Scouts fanned out into neighborhoods around the state starting at 9 a.m. Saturday to collect donations, which were eventually brought back to the organization’s Niantic Avenue headquarters in Providence.

There, Eyewitness News staff joined the Scouts and other volunteers in sorting through all the donations.

“We talk about the scouts and we thank them, but the people in southern New England too have been extremely generous,” Eyewitness News anchor Mike Montecalvo said. Mike has been involved with Scouting for Food for 25 years and it’s a project he’s very passionate about.

“It always bothers me that people go to bed hungry every night,” he said. “How is that possible?”

As of Saturday night, nearly 200,000 pounds of food had been collected. Last year’s drive brought in 243,000 pounds of food.

WPRI12 and FOX Providence are proud sponsors of the event, and if the Scouts didn’t cover your neighborhood, you can bring canned or other non-perishable food donations for the food bank to our East Providence studios during normal business hours.