6 simple steps for hosting a food drive in your hometown
Learn the best practices from a nonprofit that's collected more than 9 million pounds of food for those in need
When hurricanes struck Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, so many of you called or emailed me to ask, “How can I help?” In the immediate aftermath of those storms, I didn’t always have the answers. So much about the situation was still unknown, and we needed to communicate with people on the ground before taking any action. But in the weeks since Hurricane Harvey first made landfall in Texas, the response from the Move For Hunger network has been nothing short of inspiring. Our movers have delivered more than 300,000 pounds of food, water, and other supplies to communities that were impacted by those devastating storms.
Recovering from these disasters is going to take a long time and it is our intention to continue helping in whatever way we can. Supporting the relief efforts in Houston, Miami, and San Juan is critical, but we also can’t lose sight of the fact that hunger affects every community in the United States. Forty-two million Americans are struggling with food insecurity every single day. It’s an ongoing crisis, and we need to treat it as such.
So right now I hope you’re asking that question again: How can I help?
My answer: hold a food drive in your hometown this holiday season. Not only will you be helping to keep the shelves stocked at your local food bank, you’ll also be helping to raise awareness about hunger among your friends, family, and neighbors.
Planning a food drive might seem intimidating, but you aren’t going to be doing this alone. Our events team organizes hundreds of food drives each year, and they will help you plan the event, provide you with promotional materials, and connect you with a moving company in your area who will donate boxes for the collection and deliver all of the donations to the food bank. We’ve also developed these tips:
- Location is everything. Don’t hold the event in the middle of nowhere; go where the people are. Grocery stores, gyms, libraries, schools, and offices are all great food drive locations.
Pick a theme. One way to get people excited about your food drive is to ask for items related to a specific theme, like breakfast foods, school lunches, or taco night. Need more ideas? We’ve got plenty. Here is a list of 10 themed food drive examples that will help you reach your collection goal.
Make it a competition. Offering an incentive or a prize to donors can help create energy and excitement about your food drive. Holding a food drive at a school? Reward the class who collects the most with a pizza party. Holding a food drive at work? Set a goal and promise the staff a free bagel breakfast if they reach it. Discount coupons, entries to a raffle, and admission to an event are other ways to persuade potential donors.
Don’t do it alone. Let’s face it, everything is easier with a little help. Ask family members, friends, colleagues, and classmates to help spread the word and to lend a hand on the day of the event.
Think big. Stop by your local grocery store or convenience store and let them know that you are collecting food for the local food bank. Do they have any non-perishable items that they could donate? It’s OK if the food is past the expiration date; most of the time the food is still good and will be accepted by food banks.
End your food drive the right way. Officially end the food drive by thanking everyone who donated and sharing the results. Photos are a great way to show everyone how much food you collected, so make sure you take a picture with all of your donations! Post the photo on social media, or send it around in an email to thank everyone for their help. Be sure to send us the photo, too, so that we can include it in the blog post we’re going to write about your event!
Still doubting yourself? Read the story about Helga Drabin, a senior citizen from Florida, who holds a food drive on her birthday every year. In 2016, Helga turned 90 years old and collected 1,200 pounds of food.
Don’t think it will actually make a difference? Tell that to the kids at Broken Arrow Public Schools in Oklahoma. Their annual food drive helps supply the local food pantry with enough non-perishables to last through the summer.
Anyone can host a food drive. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, if you live in a big city or a small town. We have the stories to prove it.
Move For Hunger has collected more than 9 million pounds of food thanks, in large part, to ordinary people like you who recognized the urgency of the problem and decided to take action. We need your support to continue providing meals to our neighbors in need. Let’s start planning your food drive today.
Learn how Move For Hunger can help you hold a food drive.