Minis always need food. Some host food drives in answer, but according to Feeding America, “A hastily-organized local food drive can actually put more strain on your local food bank than you imagine.”
There are lots of guides and how-tos circulating, but ELCA World Hunger’s “Road Map to Food Drives” is a favorite. Geared for church youth groups, its easy-to-follow procedure and suggested activities will get you excited about hosting a food drive in your home worshiping community. See it here!
For the Road Map condensed, read on!
Formation of “teams” streamlines the process and divides the workload. Could be teams of one or several, but you may want to choose a point person.
Organization Contact: You’ll connect with folks inside the hosting organization, first making sure the organization is on board, then discussing ways to get the whole organization involved. (May need to attend a meeting.) When speaking with potential food drive hosts, ask about dates; when might a food drive be most successful and avoid conflict with other events? Ask if there is space to store food collected and who to contact to get an announcement out to the wider organization.
Community Contact: You’ll reach out to local food pantries about what would most help. Look for places nearby, then email or call. Ask questions like these. Which foods or items are most needed? Are there any unneeded/unacceptable items? How should your group sort donations? When/where should you drop off? Do they have suggestions for making the food drive a success? Who should you contact with further questions, and do they have questions for you?
Promoter: Your team has two jobs. The first is to brand the food drive (Holiday Theme? Trick-or-Treat/Turkey Trot—where flyers are pre-delivered and food is collected at predetermined time? Added bonus: these can raise your organization’s profile. Maybe a friendly competition with a poster board of current totals, leader annoucements, and a prize!) Your second job is to make sure lots of folks know about the food drive. See if you can hang posters onsite, at local stores, and on coffee shop bulletin boards. Make posters with dates, times, and local hunger statistics. (Be sure to take posters down afterward!) Then, routinely communicate wherever your network is listening until the food drive is over. When the drive is over, communicate its success with the organization, with media, etc.!
Coordinator: You’ll handle donations from placement of boxes and bins to sorting (Keep plastic bags for transporting!) and throwing away expired food (If you aren’t sure, throw it out!). Count items donated and take pictures for the Promoters to share in post-drive communications. Finally, you’ll deliver!
Now that you know who, here’s HOW!
One Month Before: Introduce idea and choose roles. Organization and Community Contacts should have first conversations.
Three Weeks Before: Organization/Community Contacts report.
Two Weeks Before: Promoters develop promotional materials and start publicizing the drive.
One Week Before: Promoters, keep talking! Coordinating Team should find a place to store food and arrange transportation.
During the Food Drive: Promoters, you’re still talking! Coordinating Team may begin sorting.
After the Food Drive: Coordinating Team sorts and delivers. Promoting Team develops and shares communications celebrating the successful food drive. All teams participate in a wrap-up, answering questions like, “What went really well? What things could be improved,” and “What are our next steps?" How can we address food insecurity in our community in another way?”
And there you have it! The bones of hosting a food drive! To put some meat on them, go here!