Sunday, February 08, 2015

Addressing Hunger: A Boy Scout Project

In the Law of the Pack, a cub scout gives good will and in the Boy Scout Promise, a boy scout promises to help other people at all times.  By participating in a Scouting for Food program, scouts come a step closer to fulfilling those words.  -Boy Scout Trail

As a a member of  the Boy Scouts of America (Owl Patrol, Troop 3, in Mexico City), I learned the value of citizenship. While duty to God and country (in our case, two countries) was emphasized, citizenship also meant the human race. According to the Scout Law, a Boy scout is helpful and kind. And the Scout Slogan urges all the young members who join the organization to do a good turn daily. "Many people need help. A cheery smile and a helping hand make life easier for others. By doing a Good Turn daily and helping when you're needed, you prove yourself a Scout and do your part to make this a better world.," says US Scouting Service Project.

While  these values are important all year, Saturday (no matter which month) is a special day for Boy Scouts to become aware that hunger exists in their community and that they have an opportunity to do a small part in addressing the problem. "Across the country, in many councils and districts, thousands of troops and packs with millions of scouts involved collect tens of millions of pounds of food which is distributed to needy neighbors," says Boy Scout Trail in describing the annual campaign Scouting for Food. "If your troop or pack is not involved in a local program, or if there is not a program in place, this is a great opportunity for
you to help improve your scouting program."

Collecting for Roadrunner Food Bank
In Albuquerque, the Scouts from the Great Southwest Council host an annual food drive to benefit Roadrunner Food Bank. Scouts will leave information about the food drive at homes throughout the Albuquerque community the first Saturday in February, and will pick up any food left out at homes the second Saturday in February.

Additionally, the scouts spend a few hours at several branches of a local supermarket to urge patrons to fill the red Roadrunner Food Bank barrels with non-perishable food items. This is exactly what members of  Boy Scout Troop 395 were doing yesterday, Saturday, February 7, at the Smith's Grocery Store on Tramway and Central.

This was an unusually mild and sunny day for February, one that lends itself to outdoor activities. And I'm sure the four young men collecting food with their leaders would have rather been somewhere in the Sandia foothills. And yet, here they were with a smile on their face as they did their service project. It looked like  the four barrels were each about half full. But the Scouts were going to be here another two hours, so there was time to convince patrons to add a couple of  cans of tuna or beans or a jar of peanut butter to their grocery purchase.

While my sense is that some Boy Scout troops do other things to help hungry people, such as spending time sorting food at Roadrunner Food Bank or helping in a soup kitchen, wouldn't it be great to have a merit badge that in some form teaches young people about the causes of hunger? Or perhaps the issue could be addressed in two merit badges: Citizenship in the Community and Citizenship in the Nation.

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