Charity’s regional director chows on bugs to raise money for school gardens

Posted Friday, Sep. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Scott Feille started chowing down on crickets, meal worms and dragonflies just minutes after arriving at work Thursday morning.

But his unusual snack of creepy crawlies wasn’t part of an office dare or some trendy new diet. Feille, regional director of REAL School Gardens, had publicly pledged to eat one bug per every $1,000 donated to his Fort Worth-based nonprofit organization during North Texas Giving Day.

As the donations poured in, Feille selected his snack from an assortment of creatures artfully arranged on a doily-lined silver tray. The treats — specially raised and prepared for human consumption — included roaches, scorpion lollipop and chocolate “chirp” cookies made with cricket flour.

“The roaches and the crickets didn’t taste much like anything,” said Feille, who described the scorpions as “salty and fishy” tasting. “The cicadas were much juicier than I had anticipated.”

REAL School Gardens was one of more than 290 Tarrant County nonprofits that participated in North Texas Giving Day, a one-day online fundraising event that started at 7 a.m. Thursday and ended at midnight. The group’s goal is to collect at least $24,000 to build teaching gardens at low-income schools across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Though he brought condiments such as hot sauce and pepper to help the critters go down, Feille said Thursday wasn’t the first time he has eaten a bug.

“I ate bugs in middle school for money. I would eat things on a dare,” said Feille, who had eaten 13 bugs for the $13,000 raised by 2:30 p.m.

Even Feille’s 6-year-old daughter Lark helped the cause by eating a cricket to encourage donations.

“Two billion people around the world eat insects as part of their regular diet,” Feille said.

Other charities didn’t go to such extremes to raise money but said they were pleased by the donations they received online Thursday, many by new donors.

The Dallas-based MakeAWay Charities, operating since 2008, hoped to collect more than $60,000 in donations to help provide short-term assistance to families with unexpected financial trouble —such as high medical bills or a lost job.

“Most people are living paycheck to paycheck already,” said Executive Director Jay Hellwig. “MakeAWay helps hard-working families who have hit temporary financial difficulty.”

Within the past 12 months, MakeAWay Charities has helped more than 1,000 families in the North Texas region with things such as mortgage and electricity payments, Hellwig said.

The charity is heavily supported by La Madeleine Country French Cafe, whose employees have raised more than $40,000 in the past two years, said chief operating officer John Cahill.

Last year’s North Texas Giving Day generated more than 37,000 donations totaling more than $14.4 million. That money went to more than 1,000 certified nonprofits across a 16-county area of North Texas.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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