ST. LOUIS – Saturday marked pick-up day for America’s largest one-day food drive. 

‘Scouting for Food’ is a day of service for the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. On average, scouts collect almost 2 million food items in the St. Louis region each year. 

“We’re very happy to collect food for all of the different food pantries around the St. Louis area,” said Tom Dougherty, scout leader with Troop and Pack 362.

Back in 1982, Dougherty sat on the original committee that started this program. The nationwide effort all started right here in St. Louis a couple of years later.  

“Today there will be approximately 60 million pounds of food, which will be collected on behalf of food pantries throughout the United States,” said Dougherty.

Thousands of scouts, parents and leaders braved the cold and hit the streets to pick up blue plastic bags they dropped off last weekend. People in the community fill the bags with non-perishable food items. Everything collected goes to area food banks and pantries.  

“This will help us to deliver food to families across the by state area for the next six months,” said Carlton Adams, the COO of Operation Food Search.  

Meredith Knopp, the president and CEO of the St. Louis Area Foodbank, said this is their biggest food drive of the year.  

“We’ve been a part of this for 37 years,” she said. “Last year, this one-day drive brought in over 653,000 pounds of food, and that goes out to our network of 550 food pantries across the 26 counties that we serve.” 

Troop 362 spent many hours Saturday unloading donations into boxes setup at the Maplewood Firehouse.  

“This is just one location,” she said. “We’ve got 20 different locations across the bi-state.” 

She went onto say seeing the scouts, their families and troop leaders involved is what makes this event so special. 

“It feels good because it is really nice and helpful,” scout and fourth-grader Max Fruendt said. 

His younger sister Anna got involved too along with their parents.  

“I’m having fun collecting bags and giving it to people who need it,” she said.  

Joe Sadewasser is the CEO of the St. Louis Area Council. He’s been involved with scouting since he was 7-year-old and has been in St. Louis for nine years.  

“Once you start getting involved, it’s hard to [stop] because you see all the good that it does for the community and for people,” Sadewasser said.