Getting started: What to do before kicking off your food drive
Reach out to your local food bank
Before you start making plans for your food drive, locate your local food bank and get in touch with its staff. Food banks are often run by local governments, nonprofit groups or religious organizations. If you can’t find one by making a few calls, Feeding America has a food bank locator on its website, www.feedingamerica.org.
While some food banks are happy to accept whatever you can give them, others have specific items they need, whether it’s cereal, pasta or canned tuna. They may also have a list of things they don’t want, such as expired food or bulk supplies. Once food bank staff have let you know what they need, make a list to share with food drive organizers. Decide whether your organization will accept cash donations and if so, how they will be tracked and collected.
Pick the right time for your food drive
Decide when you want to hold your food drive. Food banks usually receive their biggest donations during the holidays, which is a popular time to collect food, as people tend to be in a generous spirit. However, it might be more beneficial to your food bank to hold your drive at a time when its food supply might be lower.
A great time of the year to hold a food drive is when people change their clocks for daylight saving time. APHA’s Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign uses the time change to remind Americans to check that their emergency stockpile is up to date. That way when a disaster strikes, you’ll have fresh batteries, food that’s not expired and fresh water in your emergency supplies.
The clock change can also be used as a reminder to stock up your community’s food bank supplies. The Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks campaign, online at www.aphagetready.org, includes free fact sheets and other materials that you can pass out with your food drive fliers and help make your community even more prepared. Assemble your team If you belong to an organization such as a civic group, seniors group or parents’ organization, you can organize your food drive with other members of the group and immediately have team members to work with. Holding a food drive with co-workers, at school or through your religious organiza- tion are also popular options. Also, don’t forget to determine the dates of your food drive in advance. You can make your drive a one-day event or hold it over a few weeks. Just be sure to send out reminders if the drive is held over a long period so that people don’t forget about it. Identify one or two people who will be the lead contacts for your team so that people know who to go to if they have questions or need more information. Share the contact information of team leaders, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses.