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  • Conducting a successful Spaghetti Dinner?

    So I am chairing a Spaghetti Dinner for my troop. I have recruited coordinators for; Ticket Sales, Silent Auction, and Promotion/Advertising.

    The dinner is December 14. I went to our local grogcery stores to secure donations for food items. I work for one and they were only willing to donate $20. Another donated $10. Super Wal-Mart won't discuss it until at least today (but should I expect much more?). Bread will be donated by Panera Bread.

    Scouts were issued 10 tickets at the last meeting. The price is $5 for adults, $2 for kids under 10, and $12 for families (size of 3-5). The scouts were encouraged to sell at least the 10 tickets they were issued. We also told the scouts that if they didn't return any unsold tickets that they will have to buy them for $4/ticket.

    We also made flyers to post in local stores at the last meeting listing a contact number for purchasing tickets. We posted some and still have some to post. We also plan to run press releases into our 2 local papers.

    My question is what are some keys to conducting a successful Spaghetti Dinner. We haven't done one before (which is why I, an Assistant Scoutmaster, am coordinating it).

  • #2
    " We also told the scouts that if they didn't return any unsold tickets that they will have to buy them for $4/ticket."

    Not sure what this means. If they sell all their tickets, what will they have to buy. Or did you mean that if they didn't sell all of their tickets, they'd have to buy the unsold ones?

    Keys are . . . good food and plenty of it. A spacious hall to have the event. Look like you're having fun. Make sure that the boys are there and working, the people are supporting the Scouts not the Scouters.

    Be careful about asking for cash donations. There's a rule (yes, another rule) that only Councils or National can ask for cash donations. Of course, there isn't a rule against your charter org requesting donations to support their Scouting program.

    I recall going to one spaghetti dinner where there were a number of sauces made by different cooks. It was great trying a bit of this sause and a bit of that sauce.


    • #3
      The comment meant that any tickets that go unsold (by the due date) must be returned to the troop. If they are not returned then the scout must pay for the ticket.

      We are not asking for a cash donation. The letters for both the silent auction and for food donation requests items or gift certificate donations only.


      • #4
        We ran into a few problems with the "you buy unsold-unreturned tickets" a few years back, and abandoned that for subsequent dinners. It's one thing if it is a fundraiser where you're buying something like discount cards, entertainment books, etc. with a somewhat tangible value. Spaghetti dinner tickets didn't really fall into that definition for us.

        Make sure you publicize it with the firehouses and police stations a couple days or a week in advance (like Scouts, they plan menus and shop in advance...) Trust me. They'll show up, since it beats cooking and cleaning for the night.

        Heck, you might want to just invite them for free and use any spontaneous "cash donations" to pay for their meals. Those guys deserve a break and to be the recipient of a good turn once in a while. Another way you can accept cash donations and be legal is to have FOS envelopes handy. Sure, the money goes to the Council, but it still goes towards your Scouts indirectly.


        • #5
          Don't overcook the pasta!


          • #6
            We did our first one a year ago and will do our second one next April. We approached food distributors (Sysco and the like) and that is where we obtained major donations. I think we had all the spagehetti and sauce donated plus big cans of mushrooms, oil, suger coffee and creamer all provided by the distributors.


            • #7
              Make sure you contact your local city hall to find out what permits and inspections you might need. You will most likely need a foodservice certified person to be on site and in charge of the kitchen.


              • #8
                points to ponder...

                we ask each family to provide a few boxes of pasta and several homemade deserts...several scouts usually make a few cobblers out back, also.

                we hit costco for price breaks and buy sauce and meatballs and rolls in large sizes.

                we approach several large restaurants for "help" with industrial sized bags of salad...some is discounted some is "gifted".

                -local newspaper runs a story for us (we usually write it)-just before and usually afterwards
                -sandwich board advertizing out front two weeks in advance.
                -flyers at local stores, schools, churches, meeting halls fire stations etc.
                -fliers and pre supper newsletter story placement at the local Moose, Ruritans, Lions, VFW, American Legion and business/chamber of Commerce offices/halls
                -presales (tickets) in the communities and schools (we give top three salesman prizes).

                note: we use computer generated- two part tickets. The part returned to the troop with the payment has a salesman name blank to be filled in as well as a "customers" name/phone number...and is used to credit the "salesman" for the sale and is placed into a jar for a small door prize for the dining customers to win. It does seem to help with controling "lost" tickets.

                SPL works up the afternoon/evening duty roster (usually 2 -hour shifts) from the "volunteers" who sign up. Older scouts do the "at the door ticket sales", "host" and table assignment with escort service, younger scouts act as waiters, drinks and desert servers and bus boys and "spill getters"-(all in uniform -but without neckerchiefs) Parents and a few older scouts do the "cooking" and "dishing out"...

                Last shift is clean-up crew...while many of us work the entire afternoon and evening...Interestingly enough we never have trouble finding Volunteers for the clean up gang...scouts get to clean up leftover pie and lemonade for working the late shift and adults have quite a coffee "buzz" on by then and spend many pleasant hours in joint character assassinations (of folks who aren't there ;>0 )as we clean up the friendly mess. By the way we have more fun in the "clean up detail" than the other shifts and we always leave the fellowship hall better than we found it!

                good luck


                • #9
                  My question for highcountry is where did you find the food distributors numbers and who did you talk to?

                  For eolesen what problems did you have with charging for unsold unreturned tickets? This was brought up by our Troop Committee and was left to my decision (as the Dinner Chairman).

                  Other additional comments:

                  1. We already have a certified foodservice person to coordinate the kitchen. He will be securing the Health Food Permit.

                  2. anarchist each family is being asked to donate baking goods for the dinner. we will go ahead and bake the deserts the night before. We don't want them to fall under the "jursidiction" of the Health Department. In order to so we must have them preportioned and wrapped. We also must have a receipe on file. I think that asking the families to do this on their own would be too much.

                  3. I think clean-up will be easy as we will be having our annual Lock-In afterwards. The scouts will be ready to get to their video games and social bonding after the Spaghetti Dinner.

                  Somethings that have been mentioned that I'll probably try:
                  1. Publicize it w/ firehouses and police stations and invite them for free

                  2. post flyers at the local Moose Lodge, Lions Hall, VFW, and Chamber of Commerce

                  3. Try other sources for food donations.

                  Let me know of anything else that would be helpful.


                  • #10
                    This will be our fifth Spaghetti Supper this year and each one we learn a lttle more. Ours is always at the school during a basketball home game and always in december. What is the one thing that goes great with spahetti, but garlic toast, bread is cheap, and it adds a nice touch. Last year was the first time we had a bake sale to go with our supper and centered it on the holidays. Decorated Cookies that could be frozen were and extreme hit and our bake sale made as much money as our supper did, because all of the baked goods were donated by our cubs families.


                    • #11
                      We've never run a spaghetti dinner before, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn last night...and we have had a few successful Pancake Breakfasts, too. Different grub, same concept. We moved it up a few years ago from May to March to avoid losing boys and parental help to little league.

                      Step 1. Committee picks date and clears it with our meeting place (school cafeteria). Chosen one fills out facilities request form with school district.

                      2. Once date is set, order tickets. Coordinate with local pizza parlor and printing place as our ticket comes attached with pizza parlor coupon (value matches price of ticket)

                      3. Request donations from restaurants, grocery stores, unnamed warehouse store, and one very well known coffee house. Chain grocery stores require 45-60 day notice and a non profit org. tax ID number, very important!

                      4. Another important feature: pre-sell the tickets, don't rely on walkups. Two weekends in advance in front of grocery stores or other retail places. Even Wal-Mart if you dare. And yes we sell in uniform, approved by council office. I guess we're not technically selling or endorsing a product, but our own event. (The way I see it) No one can say no to a little Tiger Cub.

                      5. Food committee guesses based on previous year on how much chow to buy, but will NEVER get it perfect.

                      6. Double and triple check with school, district office, and assigned school district cook. Get home contact numbers.
                      7. Make sure boys have role at event. Have Fun

                      Here are some loverly obstacles, challenges our Pack event has had.

                      2005- School cook is used to pre-scrambled egg mix, but we have whole eggs. She tries cooking them in industrial steamer. Out comes green eggs. Sulfery GREEN EGGS! Ever since we've just scrambled them on the stovetop a dozen or so at a time.

                      2006- Crew shows up at 6AM. No one to open the school. No cook, no janitor, no one. After some frantic phone calls and some luck, the VP races down to open up for us. But still no cook shows. We figure out the industrial equipment while our waiting customers sip on coffee. Thank God for the Starbucks donation. See step number 6 above to help avoid this. Turns out the district paperwork had the correct date, but the cook was told (by district office personnel) verbally, the next day.

                      2007- Our Council's insurance policy with the district runs out about 10 days before our breakfast, only no one tells us until 72 hours before. Trying to coordinate between the 2 bureaucracies was a little stressful. The event itself went smoothly, except that no customers arrived until 8:30, an hour and a half after we opened. See step #4 above.

                      Our Pancake Breakfast is a great camaraderie builder with the parents, reminds the community that Scouting is still strong, and provides us with a recruiting opportunity as picture boards of our boys in action surround the cafeteria.


                      • #12
                        "My question for highcountry is where did you find the food distributors numbers and who did you talk to?"

                        Check your business yellow pages for Foodservice Distributors. Or do an online search for business in your area.

                        Request disposable products (foam plates, cups, silverware, napkins, placemats, etc) and food products (cans of sauce, pasta, coffee, sugar, creamer, salad dressing, etc).

                        Talk to the Sales or Marketing Departments or just go to the Owner / General Manager.


                        • #13
                          SequoiaWDL what did you mean when you said "Even Wal-Mart if you dare"?


                          • #14
                            Sorry, no slight intended. Our particular store is an extremely chaotic, high traffic environment. Really not well suited for Cub age boys, anyway. BTW they did donate $40 in sausage to our cause, so that was pretty cool.


                            • #15
                              So I have found these sources for our food so far:

                              coffee: Jewel Express (Jewel-Osco's gas station). I don't know if this is regular or not. I was able to talk to the Store Director because I work there.

                              bread: Panera Bread

                              milk: Dean's Milk

                              and gift cards (smaller amounts) from Jewel-Osco and Wisted's.

                              A few people mentioned that restraunts may donate things. What restraunts would be willing to donate?