An Open Letter of Thanks from Tim Morgan, MCC-BSA Chair of Scouting for Food

Date: February 7, 2021

From: Tim Morgan, Chairman of Scouting for Food

Its midday on Sunday, February 7th, and we are wrapping up another successful year of Scouting for Food (SFF) campaign.  But this year feels different.   This is the year that made me realize that Mecklenburg County really is one of the best places in the U.S. to live.

I’ve been involved with Scouting for Food for at least 15 years and I was asked to serve as the Council’s SFF Chair 8 years ago.  During that time Mecklenburg County residents have donated, and local scouts have collected, over 2 million pounds of food for our neighbors in need.  The food goes directly to our SFF partner, Loaves & Fishes (L&F), who distributes the food through a series of neighborhood pantries in Mecklenburg County.

In a normal year, Loaves & Fishes serves over 70,000 of our neighbors.  To put that in perspective, Bank of America stadium holds 75,523 people.  Over the last year, the number of people served by L&F has grown to over 100,000 as many of our friends and neighbors have been impacted by the COVID pandemic.  And speaking of last year, the 2020 SFF campaign filled the Loaves & Fishes warehouse and pantries just as the pandemic was taking its grip on our community.  Without last year’s SFF campaign, Loaves & Fishes would not have been in a position to serve those who found themselves needing help, many for the first time in their lives.

The COVID pandemic not only turned lives upside down, but those of us who are responsible for planning the SFF campaign were left wondering, would we even be able to have SFF this year?  And if we could pull it off, would it be successful?

SFF could not happen without our partnerships.  These include Loaves & Fishes, WCNC Charlotte, T.G. Stegall Trucking Company, Harris Teeter, our local Scouts, and the residents of Mecklenburg County.  Every single one of these partners stepped up “BIG TIME” this year.

  • Harris Teeter – Early in the planning process, Harris Teeter informed us they would no longer be able to provide printed, brown paper bags for SFF.  This was the result of more than 30 states implementing bans or restrictions on the use of plastic bags, thus creating a national shortage of brown paper bags.  We put our heads together and instead of bags, we decided to switch to our new red and white door hangers.  Harris Teeter said “we can handle that” and proceeded to cover the cost of printing for more than 104,000 door hangers!  Thank you Harris Teeter for your contribution to SFF and making Mecklenburg County a great place to live!
  • WCNC Charlotte – The folks at WCNC Charlotte have been longtime partners with SFF and do a great job of marketing and promoting SFF.  Larry Sprinkle, who is an Eagle Scout, has spent many cold mornings with his cameraman, Pierre, at the Arboretum Shopping Center doing live cut-ins on collection Saturday.  For many years I have witnessed Larry’s fans deliver food to the Arboretum just to be able to meet their hero.  Larry Sprinkle is one of the most gracious human beings I have ever met and he is absolutely charming with his fans and our young scouts.  Over the last few years, WCNC has encouraged more of their on-air personalities and behind the scenes employees to get involved with SFF.  I have personally seen them sorting food at the L&F warehouse, promoting SFF on air, and serving shifts at the Arboretum collection site.  In addition, WCNC’s parent company, TEGNA, made a $7,000 contribution to the SFF campaign.  This donation will enable L&F to purchase 28,000 pounds of food!  Thank you WCNC for your contribution to SFF and making Mecklenburg County a great place to live!
  • T.G. Stegall Trucking Co. – Stegall Trucking has been a mainstay with SFF for many, many years.  We tell them how many trailers we need, where they need to be, and when they need to be there, and like magic, “POOF” they just appear.  It turns out many of these trailers are delivered after-hours in the cover of darkness.  I was speaking with Jeff Stegall on Saturday and he was laughing because he personally delivered the Arboretum trailers after midnight the night before.  He admitted that he doesn’t get behind the wheel much anymore but he enjoys delivering for SFF.  Not only do they deliver the trailers, Stegall Trucking spends the week after the collection hauling the full trailers back to the L&F warehouse.  Thank you Stegall Trucking for your contribution to SFF and making Mecklenburg County a great place to live!
  • Loaves & Fishes – Loaves & Fishes is one of the best managed non-profit organizations in the region.  From marketing, volunteer relations, logistics, and warehouse operations, Tina Postel has put together one of the best staff of employees I have ever seen.  In addition to the paid staff, her Board of Directors and a long list of volunteers are committed to the mission of providing food to local families who are in a short-term crisis.   Planning for SFF begins in late spring and goes all the way through the first week of February when the campaign is held.  The L&F staff, Board members and volunteers work each year to help find ways to make the SFF better and more successful.  Thank you Loaves & Fishes for your contribution to SFF and making Mecklenburg County a great place to live!
  • Scouts from Mecklenburg County Council (MCC) – SFF would not happen without the countless volunteer hours put in by the Scouts themselves.  Each of the three districts has a SFF coordinator that assists with assigning neighborhoods and distributing door hangers.  Unit leaders are responsible for making sure door hangers are distributed and the food is collected by their youth members and adult leaders.  This year we asked units to make sure these activities were done in family units to prevent the spread of COVID.  On collection day, the collection sites become the domain of Catawba Lodge.  Catawba Lodge youth and adults sort food, load it into the trailers, and clean up the sites at the end of the day.  It’s a day a cheerful service, and I missed seeing the smiling faces of my friends this year, but I know you were smiling behind your masks.  Finally, the MCC professional staff continues to provide the support we need planning the event, communicating with our unit leaders, promoting it to our membership as one of the council’s signature yearly activities, and being present throughout the county on collection day.  Thank you Scouts of all ages for your contribution to SFF and making Mecklenburg County a great place to live!
  • Mecklenburg County residents – Your willingness to give is the reason we are able to collect more than 250,000 pounds of food each year through SFF.  You open your home pantries and wallets to provide food for your neighbors in need.  I must admit, those of us who plan and manage SFF were worried this year.  How would the COVID pandemic impact giving?  Would we be allowed to even hold SFF?  How could it be held safely?  How will people respond to door hangers versus our traditional brown paper bags?  To help make it safer and easier to participate, we added an online giving program this year.  We set a stretch goal of $25,000, not knowing how it would be received.  As I write this, I am pleased to announce that we have surpassed the goal and are currently sitting at $26,300.  This does not include any employer matching gifts that will come in over the next several months.  What does $26,300 mean for Loaves & Fishes?  It translates into 105,200 pounds of food they will be able to purchase for their clients.  More importantly, it gives them the flexibility to purchase what they need, when they need it.  And one other important fact, 100% of the money collected goes to purchase food!  In regards to our actual food collected, we will begin pulling trailers this week and weighing them at the L&F warehouse.  Based on reports from collection sites, we did not see a significant decline in donations this year so we are hopeful the 2021 SFF campaign will be one of our best efforts yet!  Thank you Mecklenburg County residents for your contribution to SFF and making Mecklenburg County a great place to live!

To everyone who has been a part of the 2021 Scouting for Food effort, I want to say “thank you”!  Each year a small group of us fret and worry over the details.  And each year our business partners, Scouts and members of the community step-up and come through for our neighbors in need.   I am truly humbled to be but a small part of this great community effort and I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that it’s our local residents that make Mecklenburg County such a special place to live!

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