How to organize a food drive

Apr 27, 2012, 8:41 a.m.

Food donations help food banks harvest and supply local resources

Established in 1980, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina represents one of many national localized efforts to increase the effective collection and distribution of food drive items. These organized, nonprofit food banks use local food donations and other resources to reduce the hunger pains that plague the poor throughout every city and town in the U.S.

The Food Bank aids hunger victims in over 34 North Carolina counties. They service the needs of 800-plus food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens. The Food Bank is only one outlet. In North Carolina alone, more than 500,000 people endure a daily struggle to provide food for immediate family members, including their children.

By organizing and collecting food drive items, you can help reduce the struggles of hungry people. The following tips, provided by Feeding America food banks, will help you get started in the business of collecting food donations for charity:

Successful food drives begin with a plan

The task of collecting food drive items requires some serious forethought and planning. A food drive packet available through the ConAgra Foods Foundation can get you started on the right program. The kit includes tips on organizing the drive, creating posters, and various other methods for publicizing your local food drive. Here is a rundown of the instructions:

1) Connect with a local food bank

Share your goals. Request and follow suggestions. Learn the local procedures concerning food donations.

2) Assemble a group

Individual strands of twine may snap easily, but when interwoven as one, the twine becomes a rope. Call on colleagues, family members, friends and religious affiliations. Also review the pages on volunteer initiative at United We Serve.

3) Work to a schedule

Establish firm pickup and delivery dates that include time for preparation and event promotion. Short food drives tend be more successful than long-term drives.

4) Location

Location determines the success or failure of any business. The process of collecting food drive items holds to the same rule. Acquire a centralized, easily accessible and sufficiently roomy collection point.

5) Publicity

Create and distribute posters, web notifications and a strong word-of-mouth publicity plan.

6) Pre-provided tools

Go to the ConAgra Foods Foundation website and download the free event poster and more.

7) Setup collection barrels

Create or download printable collection barrel signs. Be sure each sign clearly defines the purpose for a food drive. Post them for optimal viewing near every collection area.

9) Determine the acceptable food drive items

The question revolves around whether to collect food only or to include cash donations. Taking financial donations involves additional risks, but the cash-to-food ratio can be very beneficial. ConAgra includes a downloadable list of suggested food donation items.

10) Collect and deliver

Collection and delivery involves people, containers and transport. Make sure you are sufficiently prepared and staffed in every area. Also include some method for collecting and delivering the goods that come from late contributors.

Enjoy your part in taking up food drive items and food donations

Retirement doesn't mean doing nothing. Organizing a food drive pays big dividends in personal satisfaction, meaningful activities and seeing the occasional smile of a child that can go to sleep without an empty belly.

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