We all need food to survive, but for some people, poverty, lack of access to local stores, and other issues can make it hard to eat healthy, balanced meals regularly. The excellent news is that charities all across the country are working to end food hunger, reduce food shortages, and avoid the development of food deserts. Food deserts are urban areas where it is difficult to find affordable and good-quality food. Our food system has many issues, and there are many ways to get involved.
Charity Dispatcher is here to help keep you informed on all the ways you can get involved with local charities, shelters, and organizations working to supply those in need with nutritional food. However, there are also other ways you can make a difference in your community. For instance, one of the easiest ways you can help bring food to those in need is through hosting your very own food bank drive. Here’s what you need to know.
Choose a Location
The first step to hosting a food drive is choosing where you will donate everything you collect. Local food banks, food pantries, homeless and women’s shelters, charity organizations, and neighborhood community gardens are all options. You may want to contact multiple places and donate to more than one location. Once you choose where you will donate, you will also know what kind of items to ask for. These are most commonly boxed and canned goods that have a long shelf life and can be used for many things. However, it may also include fresh produce at some locations and even prepared meals and even frozen veggies and meat. Write down what each site you are working with accepts so that it is clear later.
Decide Where You Will Be Hosting The Drive
Next, you need to decide where you will be hosting the drive. In other words, this is where your community members can bring in their donations to be collected. Familiar places include:
- Your school or your child’s school.
- Your place of employment.
- A local store.
- A group or club you are a member of.
- Your place of worship.
You can always get creative with this; for example, have a neighborhood meeting to see if others in your area would like to get involved. You could even collect the items at your home from your neighbors, or encourage them to also order items as part of the drive at a location of their choosing.
Get The Word Out
One of the most important factors is how you actively spread the word. Depending on where you are hosting the drive and what items you are looking for, there are several options. Many people will make signs, posters, and flyers and distribute them where they are collecting items. Schools can make announcements every morning, during assemblies, or before class begins. Places of worship can announce the need for food donations after their services. At your place of employment, be sure to speak with the administrator before handing out unsolicited information. However, the possibilities are endless and the more creative you are, the more likely you will encourage people to donate. Some other fun ways to spread the word include writing a catchy song, doing fundraiser events, and having donation contests. Remember, you want to get the word out as efficiently as possible and make sure you are relaying all the necessary information. Be sure your donators know what items to donate, check the expiration dates on donations, and have an understanding of how their contributions will impact those in need.
Collect & Inspect the Donations
After your food bank drive has run its course, you need to gather all of the donations. First, make sure the items you have received meet the requirements for the locations where you will be donating them. Get together a helpful group of neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family to help you sort through the donations. Also, make sure that donated goods are not expired. Most food banks can’t take donations past specific expiration dates, although this varies based on the item and location. If you are unsure whether an item can be donated, give the donation center a call to gather more information. Any items that can’t be donated might be taken elsewhere, so double-check before throwing anything away. You don’t want to waste valuable food donations, so be diligent about this process. Once you are sure everything is safe to be donated, double-check your list from step one, box up the goods, and drop them off per the location’s directions.
After your food bank drive is complete, there are a few things that can be helpful. First of all, always remember to thank everyone for their help and generosity. Second, reflect on how the experience helped you grow as a valued member of your community. You might even want to check in with the centers where your donations ended up and see how they have made a difference in the lives of those in need. Keep in mind, getting involved with a charity is not something that should be a one-time event. Consider hosting another food drive in the future, and learn from the way your first drive operated. There is always room for improvement, and there are always several ways to get involved in feeding those in need, making your community a better place, and spreading love.