Boy Scouts in Troop 79, based at Crozet United Methodist Church, put out 1,300 doorhanger notices around Crozet and Batesville announcing their annual Scouting for Food drive and a few days later picked up bags of food set out in yards. A campaign for the drive outside the door of Crozet Great Valu also got a strong response from Saturday shoppers and, combined, more than 1,500 pounds of nonperishable food was donated. Last year the same drive produced 800 pounds. Fifteen Scouts and 15 adults made the effort.
Through an arrangement with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, the haul went onto the shelves of the CUMC Food Pantry, a food ministry to the area needy, now in its 26th year, that runs out of the church’s basement.
“The food stays here in this community. That’s a plus,” said Mike Carmagnola, a Scout parent and volunteer with the drive.
“It seems to us that the majority of the food being donated is coming out of the older and poorer neighborhoods,” he said.
The appeal asked for canned goods or other nonperishables and many cans of soups, beans and canned vegetables came in. Carmagnola said that donations of peanut butter, tuna, and other proteins are always needed. The drive took in a few dozens of those. Cereals and canned meats are also desired. “These items are expensive,” he said, “and we need them the most. These folks lack protein because it’s expensive.”
The Food Pantry is feeding 200 families, about 450 people, in the Crozet area every week. The volunteer effort distributes 3,500 pounds of food a month. There is a process that recipients must go through to be eligible for the food. Carmagnola said the church handles the pantry as a separate operation and special collections are held to be able to support its purchases from the BRAFB. “The food pantry is on its own,” he said. Kevin Palmer is running it now.
“Everybody gets a standard basket of goods depending on what’s available,” Carmagnola said. “Eighty percent of our customers are within Crozet and some are coming to us from southern parts of the county. A lot of them are working people, some have disabilities. The area seems affluent with all the new homes, but there is definitely a need here. November and December are normally our biggest demand months.”
The third Saturday of the month is the main distribution day. With volunteers coming from other area churches, too, an assembly line of workers sorts and packs 200 boxes in about an hour and then they make deliveries.