Disaster Recovery Fund Supports Scouts’ Annual Food Drive
Early this year, the Boy Scouts of America Northeast Iowa Council was planning its annual Scouting for Food drive to benefit Dubuque-area food pantries. Door hangers had been printed with the March date, and Scouts were ready to go door to door retrieving donated items.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Council feared that the 22nd annual event, which provides an approximately four-month supply for the Dubuque Food Pantry, would have to be canceled for the protection of everyone involved. Fortunately, the Council developed a Plan B, and with grant support from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque’s Greater Dubuque Disaster Recovery Fund, a modified Scouting for Food is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. August 15.
During the pandemic, food distribution has been a key grantmaking priority for the Community Foundation, and the Disaster Recovery Fund has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to local organizations, including the Scouts, who are providing groceries and meals to people impacted by the crisis.
“If we’re thinking about a service project that provides people with food for four months, deciding whether to do it is not a difficult concept — the community really needs it,” says Paul Lewis, vice president of programs for the Northeast Iowa Council. “The biggest question was: How do we do it safely?”
The biggest change for Scouting for Food is the format: Instead of a door-to-door drive, which could pose social distancing trouble, the Council will hold a drive-through event spread across Dubuque’s three HyVee locations. Boy Scouts in face masks will retrieve food donations from people’s vehicles, and visitors on foot will be able to leave their items in a donation tent at the front door of each store.
Some of the $2,500 Disaster Recovery Fund grant from the Community Foundation will support necessary safety precautions for the Scouts and troop leaders volunteering during the event. The grant also provides a $1,000 match for dollars raised during the drive, which will be given directly to the food pantry for the purchase of additional items, such as perishable foods. Pantries can often purchase food at a discount, meaning the Dubuque pantry can potentially stretch the dollars raised to make an even bigger impact.
“We’ve seen the need for food distributions grow dramatically since the pandemic began,” says Jason Neises, community development coordinator for the Community Foundation, who also is facilitating a local food provider network during the pandemic. “That’s why we’re so proud to support organizations like the Scouts that are working hard to help people tend to this basic need.”
Since launching the Disaster Recovery Fund March 16, the Community Foundation has granted nearly $740,000 to 45 local organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. The fund enables the quick deployment of funds to help meet urgent needs, including food, safety and health, during the crisis.