How to Organize a Community Food Drive

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					                                 Food for ME
                                 A Citizen Action Fact Sheet for Community Food Recovery

Bulletin #4305

How to Organize a Community Food Drive

           espite the bounty of food here in the       2. Develop a plan for carrying out the food
           United States, one of our most complex         drive. Contact local food businesses, service
           and serious problems is hunger. Studies        agencies, churches, clubs, schools and your
           have shown that Maine children are             Cooperative Extension office. Invite them to
           hungry. In Maine, 7,500 children under         help out. Describe the activity and discuss its
12 live in a household experiencing hunger. In            benefits to them and the community. Develop
addition, 31,000 Maine children under 12 live in          a one-page flier describing the food drive.
households where there is hunger or risk of hunger.       Make copies of it and a sample food list (see
    One of the ways to combat the hunger                  UMCE bulletin #4304, “A Food Pantry Wish
problem in your area is a community food drive.           List,” a Food for ME fact sheet).
This Food for ME fact sheet gives you a week-by-
week task list of how to organize and run a food       Four Weeks Before: Action Plan
drive in your town.                                    1. Follow up with people. Give a copy of your
    Encourage neighbors and friends to join in!           flier and food list to your contacts. Confirm
The goal of this community-based activity is to fill      their participation. Keep a current list of
grocery bags with non-perishable foods from each          people, organizations and businesses that are
of the food groups in the Food Guide Pyramid.             interested in helping with the food drive.
The food bags are then donated to local food
                                                       2. Contact local food banks or other food
banks or similar food distribution facilities for
                                                          distribution facilities. Arrange for them to
distribution to people in need.
                                                          take the donated, non-perishable foods. Set a
                                                          tentative delivery date.
Four to Six Weeks Before the Food
Drive: Action Plan                                     3. Check community, school and church
                                                          calendars for “open” date(s) for the food
1. Get started. Establish a small committee to
                                                          drive. The food drive itself will run over a
   plan and coordinate the food drive. Select a
                                                          two-week period, with the last day or two set
   chairperson and committee chairpersons for
                                                          aside for putting together and delivering the
   the following committees:
                                                          food bags.
       Promotion                                       4. Discuss plans for publicity.
       Collection and assembly                         5. Contact schools, community recreational
       Volunteer recruitment                              facilities, churches, grocery stores, etc., to see
       Decoration/food                                    if they will donate space for food collection.
Two Weeks Before: Action Plan                              2. Schedule sessions to explain the food drive
                                                              and review Food Guide Pyramid concepts, to
1. Contact local businesses and civic groups to
                                                              people collecting food. Develop handouts for
   see if they will help deliver food to food
                                                              adult volunteers.
   banks. Get a written commitment.
                                                           3. Have youth and adult volunteers sign up for
2. Design a flier to advertise the food drive.
                                                              the following jobs:
   Include a list of foods suitable for donation.
   (This could be a contest, with the design                        Distribute fliers
   selected by the planning committee.)                             Bring in donated food
                                                                    Set up major collection site
One Week Before: Action Plan
                                                                    Assemble food bags
1. Check with food banks to confirm they still
   want the food donations. Make sure delivery                      Load food bags
   date is OK. Get directions to the food banks                     Deliver food bags
   as well as parking and unloading instructions.                   Help with distribution of food

Food Guide Pyramid
A Guide to Daily Food Choices
                                                                             Fat (naturally occurring and added)
Fats, Oils, & Sweets
USE SPARINGLY                                                                Sugars (added)

Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese Group                                                      Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans,
2-3 SERVINGS                                                                                 Eggs & Nuts Group
                                                                                                  2-3 SERVINGS

Vegetable Group                                                                                        Fruit Group
3-5 SERVINGS                                                                                       2-4 SERVINGS

                                                                                              Bread, Cereal, Rice,
                                                                                                   & Pasta Group
                                                                                                 6-11 SERVINGS

2   Food for ME: A Citizen Action Fact Sheet for Community Food Recovery
4. Distribute food drive flier throughout the
   community at supermarkets, places of                     What’s Food Recovery?
   worship, libraries, schools, etc.
                                                            Food recovery is the collection of wholesome
                                                            food for distribution to the poor and hungry.
Day Before: Action Plan                                     It follows a basic humanitarian ethic that
1. Remind everyone that the food drive is                   has been part of societies for centuries.
   beginning and that they have two weeks to                Today, the four most common methods for
   collect food donations.                                  food recovery are:
                                                            1. Field gleaning: The collection of crops
During the Food Drive: Action Plan
                                                            from farmers’ fields that have already been
1. Design the food collection site using the Food
                                                            mechanically harvested or on fields where it
   Guide Pyramid theme. Your design could
                                                            is not economically profitable to harvest.
   include a floor lay-out as well as decorations.
                                                            2. Perishable food rescue or salvage: The
   For example, you could put tape on floor in
                                                            collection of perishable produce from
   the outline of a triangle, then place tables in
                                                            wholesale and retail sources.
   each food group section for the food. Or, you
                                                            3. Food rescue: The collection of prepared
   could design a giant pyramid wall collage of
                                                            foods from the food service industry.
   empty food packages and have food-group-
                                                            4. Nonperishable food collection: The
   labeled tables set up along the walls for the food.
                                                            collection of processed foods with long shelf
Day Before Food Assembly Day:
                                                            Source: “A Citizen’s Guide to Food Recovery,”
Action Plan                                                 USDA, April, 1997.
1. Prepare snacks and beverages for youth and
   adult volunteers.
2. Set up registration/information tables at the
   entrance.                                             Assembly Day: Action Plan
3. Set up the Food Guide Pyramid food                    1. Welcome the volunteers.
   collection area. Include:                             2. Review traffic control procedures with the
        a main deposit area for donated food;               traffic person, so things run smoothly during
                                                            food dropoff.
        tables for holding foods separated into
        food groups;                                     3. Greet food donators at the entrance and
                                                            explain that they are to deposit food on the
        food bag assembly area;
                                                            main receiving table.
        holding area for bagged food before it's
                                                         4. Instruct volunteers to separate the food into
        loaded into delivery vehicles; and
                                                            the food groups and place on the appropriate
        tables and chairs where volunteers can relax.       food group tables.
4. Place empty food bags on assembly table.              5. Assemble food bags according to suggestions
5. Mark area in front of collection site for                from the food bank.
   “dropoff ” parking.                                   6. Load the food bags and any extra food items
                                                            into the vehicles for transporting to the food
6. Put up poster or banner outside to advertise
                                                            bank. Call the food bank and let them know
   the food drive.
                                                            estimated arrival time.

                                                                  How to Organize a Community Food Drive    3
Close-Out: Action Plan
1. Ask volunteers to help clean up refreshment,
   collecting and loading areas.
2. Close the activity by thanking all the

Food Recovery on the Internet
USDA Gleaning and Food Recovery Home Page:
World Hunger Year (see the site’s “hunger and
poverty” links):
Second Harvest:
The Contact Center Network:
United Way:

How You Can Help Recover Food
In today’s world, where so many wake up in
poverty and go to sleep hungry, each of us must
ask: “How can I help?”
    To get involved, use the ideas in the Food for
ME fact sheets or call “1-800-GLEAN-IT,” a toll-
free hotline of the USDA and National Hunger

Prepared by Extension Community Development
Specialist Louise Franck Cyr.

Source: Community Nutrition Action Kit, USDA,
September 1996.

         Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts
         of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the
         University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the
Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative
Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide
equal opportunities in programs and employment. 3/98

4    Food for ME: A Citizen Action Fact Sheet for Community Food Recovery

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