Hosting a food drive is a fun and easy way to help those in need in your community and teach your children the joy of service.
Food banks are always in need of donations. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, many organizations host food drives to help stock the shelves for the holidays but what about the rest of the year? Another time of great need in our communities is during the summer months when kids who benefit from school lunch programs are home from school.
Getting organized is the first step in making your food drive a success.
*CONTACT YOUR LOCAL FOOD BANK
Let them know about your plans and arrange a drop off date and time.
Ask them for a wish list. Some food banks don’t want glass jars or certain foods.
*CHOOSE YOUR DATES
You need a day to distribute flyers, a day to collect food, and a day to deliver to the food bank. We choose a day in the spring right after school lets out and before everyone leaves for vacations. We put out the flyers either on a Saturday or Monday to collect on the following Saturday.
*INVITE YOUR FRIENDS
A project like this is always more fun with friends. Invite another family or neighborhood kids to help you.
*CREATE A FLYER
You want to include date and time for pick up. We asked our neighbors to place the donations near their mailbox or on their porch. We included the wish list of items from the food bank. We also included an email address for any questions and the web link to the food bank. We made ours a half sheet on colored paper. I made copies at the local print shop. You will want to know how many homes are in your neighborhood before you head to the print shop.
*DISTRIBUTE THE FLYERS
You CANNOT leave flyers in mailboxes. It is against the law. We opted to tape the flyer to the side of the mailboxes on the side closest to the driveway. Be sure not to cover the house numbers on the mailbox. We held our food drive on a Saturday and put out the flyers on the previous Monday.
I went down to the local warehouse store and got a bunch of can tray boxes. We used these to sort the donations and make it easier to carry in to the food bank.
One year, we sent around another flyer the night before the collection day. This was a lot of extra work but effective. This year, we forgot to send a reminder and we did have less donations. People are busy and they forget. Next year we plan to put signs out at the front of the neighborhood the day before.
*COLLECT THE FOOD
We have a trailer and drove around the neighborhood collecting food and putting it in the trailer. You could use a truck or van but the trailer made it extra fun for the kids. We drove slowly down the road and the kids ran to each house. If nothing was out they would knock at the door and ask if they had anything for the food drive. Each kid took a buddy to be safe and the trailer stayed in sight of the kids. We had a couple volunteers sit in the trailer and sort the food as it was collected.
*SEPARATE THE FOOD
We separated food into groups, vegetables, soups, fruits, cereal, etc. You will want to decide where you will keep the donations ahead of time. Our dining room served as the storage area until we could deliver it to the food bank.
We kept a cooler full of cold water in the trailer for volunteers to keep hydrated. We also wore sunscreen and hats.
*DELIVER THE FOOD
We arranged to deliver the food Monday morning after the food drive. Before we delivered it, we took some pictures and estimated how much food we collected. Next year we will include the amount on our flyers and challenge the neighborhood to beat our record.
Learning to serve in our families will set a pattern of service for life. When we are focused on others and their needs, we have an increased love for our neighbors and become more grateful for our blessings.
“Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40