Organize a Fun Food Drive!

Alameda County Community Food Bank is one of our partner agencies, and buildOn Bay Area members frequently volunteer at the food bank—sorting donated food and passing out free lunches for those in need. We asked the food bank to write a blog about a great service project anyone can do, and they delivered with this wonderful guide!

By Miranda Everitt, Communications Coordinator at Alameda County Community Food Bank

Just about everybody has seen one: a round barrel, about four feet tall, used to collect donations for your local food bank. Maybe you’ve even added some canned tuna or macaroni and cheese to the pile. It’s simple. 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:

  1. Spread the word: If a food drive was held in an office, and no one donated, would it really exist? Put your barrel where will see it; try near the coffee maker. Then advertise the food drive with flyers or posters. Bonus tip: you have a captive audience when you put flyers in bathrooms.
  2. Set a goal: Whether its pounds per person or 100% participation, setting a goal is vital to measuring your success.
  3. Start some friendly competition: Pit teams against each other for a pizza party or any incentive you can think up. Offer prizes for collecting the foods the pantry needs the most. For example, if someone brings in a lot of peanut butter, make that person the “Nuttiest Employee.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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 one in six residents of Alameda County – something most people don’t know until they’ve visited and seen our warehouse for themselves.
  6. Get online: Virtual Food Drives stretch every $1 you donate to $4 worth of food, especially stuff you can’t get at 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 pick-ups. Most food banks offer this option instead of or in addition to your food drive.

Just a little work can produce big results. And thinking up creative ways to motivate donations can be fun! For example, a few fearless students at a 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,” a student 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?

Read more of their blogs by Alameda County Community Food Bank here.