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Back in 2004, Boy Scouts from the troop 2 and 203 of Alameda and Oakland respectively sort through barrels of the Alameda County Community Food Bank as part of their annual "Scouting for Food" food drive in Oakland. The tradition lives on this weekend. (Ray Chavez/Staff Archives)

On Saturday morning, the East Bay will, once again, be invaded by swarms of young people doing good works.

As part of what has been called the nation's largest food drive, thousands of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturers, Explorers and their supporters will be "Scouting For Food" by picking up boxed or bagged nonperishable food placed on doorsteps by 9 a.m. Saturday.

The drive is conducted each year in November as a precursor to intense demand for food at Thanksgiving.

This is one of the best charity events of the year, and we urge all who are able to participate. It helps feed the hungry in as direct and efficient a manner as possible.

In the Bay Area, the Scouts' goal is to collect 450,000 pounds of food this year. That is a tall order, but we do not doubt that it can be reached.

Officials in charge of the effort said residences on the Scouts' collection routes should have received a door-hanger last Saturday promoting the drive. Residents who did not receive a door-hanger are not on a collection route, but we are not letting them off the hook that easily. They can still contribute by dropping off donations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at locations listed at www.bayarea hunger.org.

While the Scouts handle collection of the food, the area's food banks do the logistical heavy lifting of distribution.


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Food banks in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties get the food to the places where it is most needed.

The food banks are an amazing and critical service. The Alameda County Community Food Bank, for instance, serves one in six Alameda County residents, providing food to 49,000 people each week with nearly half being children.

Meanwhile, the Contra Costa and Solano Food Bank serves approximately 149,000 people each month and last year distributed 16 million pounds of food, enough for 13 million meals.

Food from the food banks in Alameda County is distributed through 275 food pantries, soup kitchens, child and senior care centers and other community organizations.

In Contra Costa and Solano, one out of four people receiving emergency food are children and 86.5 percent of clients served had income below 130 percent of the federal poverty level. (That's less than $2,422 a month for a family of four.) Officials said the biggest needs this year are healthy, nonperishable items including canned meats and fish, peanut butter, pasta and sauces (no glass jars, though), low-sodium soups and stews, and low-sugar cereals.

But those who can't, for whatever reason, put out some foods for the Scouts can still help by making a financial donation to the effort. In Contra Costa and Solano, 95 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to food programs, and every dollar donated provides the equivalent of two healthy meals.

All in all, we believe the drive is a worthwhile endeavor that benefits many right here in our communities, and we urge our readers to support it as best they can.