Just about everybody has seen one: a round barrel, about 4 feet tall, collecting donations for your local food bank. Maybe you’ve dropped in some canned tuna or macaroni and cheese.
But with demand for emergency food as high as it’s ever been, maybe you’re wondering how you could do more to help. Hosting a food drive is a great start!
It’s easy, it’s fun and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your donations will end up on the shelves of neighbors in need.
Here are some simple tips for your next (or first!) food drive:
- Spread the word: If a food drive was held in an office, and no one donated, would it really exist? Put your barrel where no one can miss it (try near the front door or the coffee machine). Then paper the place with flyers or posters (bonus tip: you have a captive audience when you put flyers in bathrooms.)
- Set a goal: Whether it’s a number of pounds per person or 100% participation, setting a goal is vital to measuring your success.
- Start some friendly competition: Pit teams against each other for a pizza party or any incentive you can think up. Offer prizes for collecting lots of the foods we need most, like “Nuttiest Employee” when someone brings in lots of peanut butter, or "Big Fish" for the most diligent collector of canned tuna.
- Get it in the bag: Give out paper bags to show that you’ve set the bar high! Rather than bringing in a can or two from the pantry, your team will want to go shopping to fill up the bag.
- Make a connection: Schedule a volunteer day or tour at your local food bank for your group so they see first-hand where their donations end up. (Or share our quick video to “follow the can.”) Our food bank serves 1 in 6 residents of Alameda County – something most people don’t know until they’ve visited and seen our warehouse for themselves.
- Get online: Virtual Food Drives stretch every $1 you donate into $4 worth of food, especially stuff you can’t get in a food drive, like fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re a great way to make an impact on hunger while decreasing your impact on the environment. This way, our trucks and drivers can focus on distributing food rather than making pickups. You can do this instead of or in addition to your food drive.
Just a little work can have a big result. And thinking up creative ways to motivate donations can be fun!
For example, a few fearless students at Piedmont Middle School borrowed the Food Bank’s can costumes to rally their classmates.
“We know that hunger is a problem that isn’t very far away,” Becca said, while dressed in an oatmeal costume. “That’s why we’re willing to do a silly thing like this to get attention for the cause.”
What are your ideas for helping out your local food bank?
This post originally appeared in BuildOn from the field, the blog of buildon, an organization that engages students in building communities. Thanks to buildon for the post idea -- and for the volunteers they send to us!