The ‘Souper Food Drive’ is here

It shows kids they can make a difference


Don’t be confused if you see bags of soup, peanut butter or macaroni and cheese on your neighbor’s doorstep this Saturday — the 13th annual “Souper Food Drive” is simply underway.

Our Lady of Lourdes R.C. Church, in Malverne, holds the drive every year. Malverne is split into 15 different sections, and a team of children is responsible for one section each. Little league teams, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, religious education classes or even just groups of friends will come together to do their part for the community.

“The kids love it,” said Linda Baldacchino, coordinator of youth ministry for the church. “I think they feel really good when they see how much they do.”

The group of kids will choose a day this week to go out into their section of the village, and put up flyers asking people to leave food out for the food drive. Then, on Saturday, the teammates will go out and collect the food neighbors have left out for them. Last year’s food drive raised over 10,000 pounds of donations.

“At a young age they can understand service,” she added. “The adults in the community are inspired by the kids’ work, and I think the kids are inspired, like ‘wow, a lot of families really got our flyer and went out shopping for us.’”

Of the 15 sections, 12 are already claimed — but there’s still room for three more teams to sign up. And if service isn’t quite motivation enough, there’s an added layer that’s popular with the kids: the element of friendly competition.

Each team keeps track of how much food they’ve raised. Each pound of donations is one point earned. And the items that the food pantry is in a little more need of — which this year are peanut butter, jelly, soup, stuffing, mashed potatoes and snacks — earn the kids twice the points.

Last year, some teams raised more than 1,000 pounds of food. The donations help keep the Our Lady of Lourdes pantry stocked, which is especially important in the months after the holidays when donating perhaps is no longer on the forefront of people’s minds, and the pantry sees a lull.

“The pantry is really dependent on volunteer donations,” Baldacchino said. “It’s a nice way to stock up the pantry, and it lasts a few months.”

The teams will bring the donations back to Our Lady of Lourdes between noon and 3 p.m. to assess just how much food they’ve helped raise. It seems to get bigger every year — the neighbors of Malverne consistently show up for their loved ones struggling with hunger.

“It’s really become an event that the community knows about,” Baldacchino said. “People look for it. We get huge participation from the community.”

To sign a team up, visit Our Lady of Lourdes’ website at — and if you’d like to help, don’t forget to leave nonperishables on your doorstep this Saturday.