PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In every community in Rhode Island, individuals and families are struggling to put good, nutritious food on the table.
The Rhode Island Community Food Bank, through its network of agencies, serves approximately 53,000 residents every month. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12.4 percent of Rhode Island households experience food insecurity at some point throughout the year, even though the state’s unemployment rate has been on the decline.
“Now people are working but they’re just not earning enough to be able to make ends meet, to be able to afford the most basic household expenses, including food,” R.I. Community Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff said Thursday.
That’s why the 31st Annual Scouting for Food drive is so critical.
“That’s when we absolutely need this food, to help us prepare for the holidays,” Schiff added.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, members of the Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts of America will go door-to-door in neighborhoods across the state, dropping off door hangers to remind residents about the drive. Then, on Saturday, Nov. 3, the scouts will return to pick up the nonperishable food donations.
The canned goods will then be sorted and distributed to the R.I. Community Food Bank and other local food pantries.
The food bank’s most needed items include:
- Canned soup, meats and tuna
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Dried fruit
- Canned nuts and peanut butter
- Tomato sauce
- Nutritious breakfast cereals
- Whole wheat pasta
- Canned or dried beans
- Granola bars and other healthy snacks
Nothing perishable or in glass containers can be accepted, according to the Narragansett Council.
Leading the drive from the very beginning has been Joe DeStefano. He said it was only supposed to last for two years, but the need for donations is always there and the desire to help is a teachable moment for children.
“What we want to see – the youngsters doing something for their community,” DeStefano said. “When they get older, we want them to make sure that they’re doing something about community.”
After 31 years and more than 9 million pounds of food collected, DeStefano is getting ready to step down, but his legacy of empowering young scouts will live on.
“The commitment that he has and the leadership he’s shown is remarkable,” Schiff said.
This year, the Narragansett Council has partnered with Ocean State Job Lot, which will match pound-for-pound (up to 100,000 pounds) all food collected during the drive.
WPRI 12, Fox Providence and the CW Providence are proud sponsors of Scouting for Food.