December 10, 2014

Host a food donation drive to make a difference in your community. As an attendee of an Austin culinary arts program, you understand the importance of food in people’s lives. With the holidays comes the growing presence of local food banks. As the cold weather sets in, the amount of people in shelters and seeking assistance from food banks grows. Help your local community by organizing a canned goods drive. Here are some tips on how to plan and run a food donation drive:

Decide where the donations will go
It is important to know where the food will go in order to understand what the community’s needs are. Talk with local homeless shelters, churches and government offices to establish where you will send the donations you collect. Most organizations would be happy to work with you to run a food drive or to receive of your donations.

Establish drop-off locations
You have to have somewhere to put the donations. The easier people can get to that location, the more likely they are to donate. If you are hosting a drive at your work, place put a box in the break room labeled “canned goods donations” and include some information about your drive, like what you are looking for and where the donations will go. If you can have multiple locations for donations to be dropped off, such as in several buildings spread around town, you will get even more donations.

Plan an event
Hosting an event is a great way to get the word out about your cause and to get people involved. Try having a concert of local musicians or maybe an art gallery opening at the end of your drive. This will give you a last batch of donations before you turn them in to the organization that needs them. It’s also a great way to spread the word about that organization and to celebrate your hard work. Instead of charging admission, ask that attendees bring a canned good or two as their entrance fee. Ask a local business to host the event in their space for free in exchange for including their logo on your fliers and donation drive information.

Get the word out
Use social media to tell everyone you know about your drive. Tell them everything from what to donate to where to put it and where those donations are going. Sending personal emails to friends and family is a great way to get people involved by personally inviting them to participate. Be sure to include details about your big fundraising event. People that go to food banks come from many different backgrounds and ethnicities and have a wide variety of nutritional needs, from children and elderly people to individuals with specialized diets or allergies. Be sure to include a list of most-wanted food items in every social media post, email and at every donation box to give people some ideas of what to donate. Peanut butter, beans, mac and cheese, canned soups, stews, boxed meals, rice, tuna and cereal are some of the most needed items at food banks across the country.

Do it
Now get those donation boxes out, spread the word and have an awesome event. Your kindness and the help of your community can really make a difference in the lives of the people who receive the donations.