NUTLEY, NJ - Scouting for Food smashes its record with 34,046 food items collected for the Nutley Family Service Bureau’s food pantry and the number is still growing. The drive was conducted by the Nutley Boy Scout Troop 147 and Cub Scout Packs 141 and 142 on Saturday, March 30 at Franklin Reformed Church in Nutley.
“This was an exhausting day, but a great way to teach the scouts, especially the young cub scouts the meaning of helping others,” said Walt Smith, Pack 141 chairman and chairman of Scouting for Food, in a press release.
The food was collected and sorted at Nutley’s Franklin Reformed Church, 45 Hillside Crescent and transported to the food pantry at 169 Chestnut St. Some items will be temporally stored at the township-owned former Nutley Bike Shop, 307 Franklin Ave.
The food pantry, formerly run by the American Red Cross Chapter of Nutley, is one of the largest in Essex County. NFSB took over the pantry in 2016.
Last year the scouts collected 27,712 food items. This year the scouts collected over 6,300 more items, a 23 percent increase. According to Smith, in 2013 the total was 10,653. The project in Nutley began in 2006 and 2007 is the first year of recording the totals with 3,405 items collected.
“After topping 13,000 food items in 2013, I thought we reached our maximum potential, with last year’s incredible total of 27,765 but this year was amazing,” Smith said.
The campaign was launched on "Bag Distribution Day" the weekend of March 23 when Scouts delivered paper bags to residents’ door steps. They delivered 8,300 bags. On “Bag Collection Day” they retrieved those filled bags and also stationed themselves at Nutley Park ShopRite handing out flyers of what food items were needed to shoppers on collection day, March 30.
The scouts collected 1,000 items at ShopRite. “The need this time of the year is especially great,” Smith said.
More than 120 Cub and Boy Scouts participated in Scouting for Food. “We were able to reach this remarkable total because we now have more Scouts in Nutley participating. This year 95 percent of all Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts actively participated, than in previous years and a major effort was made to coordinate coverage of nearly all streets in town,” Smith said.
An additional 120 volunteers helped at the collect site, according to Eileen Painter, NFSB executive director. “The day would not have been such a big success without the volunteer’s enthusiastic help. All those items will support the Food Panty and the more than 225 households for much of the year. We are thrilled to partner with the Nutley Scouts to fill the pantry,” said Painter in a press release.
The organizing committee, in addition to Smith and Painter, included co-chair and Pack 147 Scout Leader Monica Suarez, Joel Perez, Jennifer Boyes, Marisa Treglio and Chris Treglio leaders of Pack 142 Joanne Gola Troop 147 and Joann Kielblock Pack 141. Troop 147 Boy Scouts coordinated the reception of food items at the building along Suarez and Painter and over 100 other volunteers and NFSB board members.
“The efforts of individual scouts have reached a whole new level. We are proud of every single Scout for their effort in helping our residents in need,” said Smith.
According to Smith, Scouting for Food is the nation’s largest single-day food drive. Scouting for Food began as a service project for the St. Louis Area Council in 1985 and was adopted by the National Organization in 1988 when one million Scouts collected an estimated 65 million cans of nonperishable food. This year marks the 34th year.
Across the country, in many councils and districts, thousands of troops and packs with thousands of scouts involved collect tens of millions of pounds of food which is distributed to needy neighbors. Scouting for Food is the nation's largest one-day food drive, raising 30 percent of area food pantries' yearly supply and feeding the hungry in the community for over four months.
Painter said in a separate interview, that she was overwhelmed to see the power of this local community. “We have said it many times before, but the Scouting for Food Drive is proof positive it takes a village to support a village. It is humbling and inspiring to see generations of volunteers standing side by side,” she said.
Painter said they couldn’t have done it without the generosity of Franklin Reformed Church, Nutley ShopRite, Nutley Department Parks and Recreation and the support of the Nutley Scouts, Nutley residents and countless others who donated their time and energy to the effort.
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