After receiving feedback from our volunteers we have re-examined our guidelines for this year’s Scouting for Food and implemented changes to help more Scouts participate. Our primary goal in with these guidelines was to keep our Scouts healthy so they were designed based around the most stringent regional requirements in our Council territory, but we do not want to keep any Scouts from performing their Good Turn. Please review the updated guidelines and, as with all in-person activities during the pandemic, discuss your plans for participation with your chartered organization to ensure your Scouts will be safe while fulfilling their Duty to Others.
Your unit may pick-up food from front porches or driveways as long as it not require person-to-person contact. The use of gloves when handling these food donations would be a prudent precaution. If you choose to deliver notices to houses you must use small groups and other precautions as listed above.
The fall NCAC Scouting for Food Drive is ON! We are now experiencing an historic national emergency that has created extraordinary needs. Just as they did in times of world war and those calls for sacrifice by the American people, Scouts and Scouting can demonstrate their devotion to community service by helping to meet the greatly increased food demands while keeping themselves safe. Local food banks are being overwhelmed by requests from families that lack emergency financial resources and have not had the ability to stockpile food. They need donations of shelf-stable food, toiletries, and other items.
Units and Districts can and should conduct food drives now, and in November in particular. We will not be using bags or stickers that restrict us to a single date, and, with safety paramount in our minds, our methods must change. Any Council Scouting for Food drive must be completed within local and council guidelines, including those governing small group size, glove and mask use, limited contacts, and social distancing. A 2020 Scouting for Food Safety Protocol has been reviewed and approved by the council Enterprise Risk Management Committee and shall be reviewed and followed in all stages of any drive. All unit safety plans shall be submitted to their district Scouting for Food chair and District Executive; district safety plans shall be submitted to the District Executive for review and approval.
Running a safe food drive.
There are many ways to collect food and maintain social distancing, like “front yard” collections and drive-through food drives (see some examples here and here). This year we encourage units to find other methods instead of door-to-door solicitations. Any group sizes shall be kept to 6-8 persons, perfect for dens and patrols. Other options could be to utilize a large empty parking lot, park, or well-traveled street for drop offs, to set up near a grocery store, or to work with a food bank to accept donations directly. Be creative! Scouts, Scouters and helpers who staff drop-off sites shall not do any sorting and packing inside a building, only entering one to use the bathroom. Drivers bringing donations to a drop-off site, and their passengers, are encouraged to wear face masks.
Promoting your local food drive. In November, the council will provide wide promotion in its social media accounts, website, and by email, but local drives may also use neighborhood, church, and school list serves, roadside signs, emails, social media posts, and stories submitted to weownadventure.com – our Scouting blog. Remember to identify your unit!
How to start and operate:
- It is especially important that units and districts first contact their intended food or feeding agency recipient to ascertain their needs, requirements, and procedures. Some cannot accept food now, lack resources to sort or pick up food, have special requests for packaging, or limit drop-off periods.
- Make a plan that conforms to all state, local, and council guidelines. If you have questions about safety protocols, please review the 2020 Scouting for Food Safety Protocols and the FAQ section. Your event safety plan shall be submitted to your district Scouting for Food chair and District Executive, who can also answer questions.
- Make sure that you take this opportunity to educate your Scouts on the value of what they are doing and their duty to help others through community service – this is part of the ethics of Scouting and will enhance their experience.
- Units should let their district Scouting for Food coordinator know what they are doing, when their drive will take place, and what help they need. Districts may either choose to coordinate unit food drives as they have in the past or they may allow units to run them independently.
- Create promotional materials, distribute them in your area in both physical and virtual space, and use available council promotional resources.
- Perform your food drive safely and deliver the food as directed by your food agency.
- Report your results (food quantity, hours of service, and number of volunteers) to your district Scouting for Food coordinator.
- Report your unit’s service hours in your Scoutbook account.
This is a time for Scouting to show its commitment to helping others. Individual Scouts or entire units can help, so decide how you can safely proceed, make a plan, and enlist others. Stay safe, and thanks for your part in making more caring community.
Scouting for Food Safety Protocols
There are a variety of ways to conduct a safe, legally compliant, socially distant food drive to serve the community. In Scouting our priority must always be the safety of our Scouts and any other event participants. To this end, group sizes shall be kept small and the following protocols shall be followed in planning and executing community food drives.
Before the Event
- Make sure you understand state and local guidelines for your event – they must be followed. Check the latest advice from the NCAC and get permission from your chartering organization for the event. Consult the BSA’s Restart Scouting Checklist as you plan your event. And do not forget the all Youth Protection guidelines must always be followed (e.g., two-deep registered leadership at all times, no one-on-one contact, etc.)
- Ask prospective participants to exclude themselves and stay at home if they (a) are at high-risk for COVID-19 under CDC guidelines (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, or any heart or lung condition), (b) have a fever, cough, loss of taste, headaches, or breathing irregularities, (c) have had a recent exposure to someone with COVID-19, or (d) have had a recent positive test for the virus (the “Health Risk Conditions”.) See the Model Pre-Event Medical Screening Checklist and the list of symptoms in the Restart Scouting Checklist.
- Confirm that you have Parts A and B of the BSA Annual Health and Medical Form for each participant.
- Assemble needed safety materials: masks for those who may not have one, hand sanitizer, a handwashing station (if feasible), and cones/tape/ropes or other ways to mark proper distancing.
- Prepare and distribute a permission slip which acknowledges the inherent risks of participation in any activity and asks parents/guardians to assume the risk (just as you would – hopefully – for any campout or activity.) You may use the suggested BSA form or a similar one that includes the same or similar language and an acknowledgement that any participant must obey the special requirements and instructions of the leaders or they will be asked to leave.
- Designate a safety monitor to take charge of and ensure compliance with all protocols.
During the Event
- Upon arrival at the event site, all participants are to (a) deliver their permission slip, (b) confirm to the safety monitor that they do not have any Health Risk Conditions on the Model Pre-Event Medical Screening Checklist, (c) have their temperature taken (either at the work site of by a parent at home and confirmed by them), (d) be instructed in and confirm that they understand the safety protocols for the event, including maintaining a proper social distance from all other participants and properly wearing a mask.
- Group sizes shall be kept small (8-10 maximum.) Greater participation can be accommodated with proper scheduling and timed entry and exit.
- Masks shall always be worn. Use and provide effective (no bandanas), that tightly fit over the mouth and nose.
- Hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) shall always be available, and a handwashing station set up if practicable. Both the sanitizer and the handwashing shall last at least 20 seconds and be done frequently if handling food products. The safety monitor shall recommend and supervise use when appropriate.
- All participants shall strive to maintain a social distance of at least six feet, using planned operations that minimize close and person-to-person contact. Visitors, such as those dropping off or picking up food, shall similarly be kept at a safe distance as a part of the event plan.
- There shall be limited or no sharing of items such as tools, but if they are shared, they shall be cleaned with antiseptic wipes or alcohol between users.
- If food and drink are needed, they shall be self-contained, such as self-packed lunches, personal water bottles, disposable utensils, and separately prepared and packaged individual portions.
- Any participant who exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19 during the event shall be immediately separated and isolated, and arrangements made to send them home or for medical care.
After the Event
- All participants shall monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after the event and report to their leaders if they experience any such symptoms. During this time, they should avoid contact with high-risk individuals.
- If there are any participant reports of symptoms or a positive test for COVID-19 within 14 days of the event, leaders shall complete an Incident report (www.scouting.org/healthand-safety/incident-report/) and contact their District Executive. Further instructions for this form can be found online.
Can non-family members ride in the same vehicle?
Only family members may be in the same car. If there are families that are doing a bubble (e.g. two families may have a bubble where their family members can be together) they can also be in the same car. Parents of Scouts that intend to have people outside their family in their car must notify the leader of their unit in advance and if the unit of their leader does not think this is safe, the unit leader can forbid this.
What about Scouts who are sick, disabled or excluded because of COVID-19 exposure?
Unit leaders should take into consideration and Scouts or Scouters who are medically vulnerable or who have members of their household who are medically vulnerable. It would be helpful to find a way for those Scouts to participate. For example, they could assist the SFF coordinator of their unit or district remotely by helping to promote the drive.
How do I set up a drop-off station?
One way would be to create separate sub-stations within the parking lot or drop-off area, with vehicles directed to drop off donations at each sub-station (maybe without getting out of the car.) The sub-stations could be 20 feet apart and the perimeter of each sub-station marked with tape or chalk. Only two people at a time could be allowed to be at a given sub-station, and those people should try to stay 6 feet away from each other. Youth Protection Policies must be followed, and 2 adult leaders must be present at all times.
What should I do if I have a large unit that wants to participate?
Such a unit could either use a central location and assign volunteers to specific work times in order to limit the group size, or you could plan to let the dens and patrols run their own mini-drives either at the same or different times. One unit designed their food drive to be an individual effort and left the decision as to level of effort to each scout family.
Although we cannot do door-to-door solicitations, can we arrange to pick up food from front porches? How about going door-to-door to deliver food drive notices?
You may pick-up food from front porches or driveways as long as it not require person-to-person contact. The use of gloves when handling these food donations would be a prudent precaution. If you choose to deliver notices to houses you must use small groups and other precautions as listed above.
What if the food bank in my area will not accept food donations directly?
If your food bank is unable to accept food donations directly, or your unit chooses to do so, please consider looking at your food banks’ options and consider other giving options. At the end of the Scouting for Food campaign, provide input on the total number of goods delivered by any means.
Should every unit make separate arrangements with their intended food agencies, or will the district or council do it?
Every unit that intends to collect food for a food agency needs to make sure that it can deliver it in the way that the agency desires. While the council will not make these contacts, it is highly desirable that the district Scouting for Food chair learn what the needs and procedures will be for any common agencies, and then let the units know. If the units wish to deliver food on a separate schedule, they should make their own arrangements.