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How to Host a Food Drive at Your Workplace

The Holiday Season is a great time to plan an event at your workplace geared toward giving back and can remind us to consider all of the privileges and comforts we enjoy, such as food to nourish our minds and bodies. Holding a food drive at your workplace is a great way to support your local food shelter and instill a culture of giving and philanthropy at work. Hosting a food drive is also a relatively easy task, and with a little planning it can be very successful.

The first step to planning a food drive is to select a food bank or food-rescue organization where you would like the collections to be donated. Once that has been decided, contact the organization to tell them about your plans and ask if they have any tips, suggestions or standard operating procedures for the process. Some food banks or food-rescue organizations will provide you with a helpful boost to running a drive, such as collection bin signs, help with food drop-off, or marketing/promotional materials and tips for getting the word out about your drive. Remember that both your organization and the food-bank/rescue organization have a stake in the success of the drive. They will be more than happy to contribute their knowledge and tools!

Most projects are aided by using a team approach; this also applies to running a food drive. Forming a team of individuals, or a committee, to plan and implement the drive can create a cohesive structure of leaders for this project, just like other projects your business may undertake. When you have a team together, you can brainstorm the best strategy for carrying out a food drive at your business. You will want to decide whether or not you wish to hold the drive on one day or several days. The benefit to holding your drive on more than one day is that if some employees forget to bring in their donations the first day, they will have other opportunities. A rule of thumb is to make sure that the drive does not go on for too long, for risk of people losing interest.

After you have chosen a date, decide on the specifics of where the drive, or collection bins, will be located. Good places to set up collection bins are locations that most, if not all, employees pass through or see on a daily basis so collection bins can also serve as reminders/promotional material during the drive. Some examples of a good collection site include the cafeteria, the reception desk, the H.R. office, or even outside of restrooms!

Just like your business uses strategy in advertising goods and services offered, it is important to advertise your drive. Sending out email blasts and posting flyers around the office in visible and frequented locations are two easy ways to get the word out about the upcoming food drive. Make sure that in your promotional material you include important information about the drive such as date(s), collection locations, what materials are being collected (food donations? cash donations? both?, etc.), what organization the collections will be supporting, and information on why food drives are important and how they benefit individuals and the community. Again, many food banks and food-rescue organizations provide promotional materials, often with customizable parts to adjust to fit your specific drive. They also provide information and examples of what type of food goods they collect. These details remove obstacles to giving, such as a lack of knowledge about what foodstuffs are acceptable to donate.

Not only should you decide on collection locations, but also the collection receptacles you would like to use. You can use boxes, bins or bags. Remember that size matters when the time comes time to drop off donations. Medium-sized boxes, bins or bags make for easier drop-off. They should be clearly labeled for visibility (your food-bank/rescue organization may also provide signs or printable PDFs for this). If you choose to hold your drive over several days, you will want to have a plan for what to do with the goods at the end of each day. One option is to designate a committee member or two to be responsible for the collected goods either to ensure the security of the donations or perform daily deliveries to your chosen food bank.

One of the last steps to organizing and carrying out a successful food drive is to drop off the donations! This process should be guided by instructions or tips from your chosen food bank or rescue organization. They will tell you when and where to drop off, or sometimes even offer to aid in the process of collections. Before dropping off donations, you will want to record some measure of how much food or cash was collected. Your food bank may have processes for determining this at the drop-off; make sure to ask if this is the case, as it will make the process easier. If not, you may want to get a rough estimate by counting how many boxes, bags or bins were collected in total. This concrete example of the result and success of your drive will be important for reporting and celebrating the work and donations of staff after the drive is over. Send out another email blast with the results to commend those who donated and re-instill an organizational culture of giving.

Food drives are being held all over the country; they have both a local and global impact and are easy to implement at your business. Just as the Holiday Season is a time for showing our gratitude toward friends and family through gifts, food and celebration, it is also a time for showing this same gratitude and spirit of giving to the communities in which we live.

You can also adapt these tips for planning to host a different kind of drive such as a gift drive or clothing drive. Further, even though the spirit of the holidays is a great backdrop for hosting an altruistic giving program or event at your organization, any time of the year is a good time to hold a food as well! But for now, you can take advantage of the unique setting that winter and the holiday season provides for giving, and plan a drive today!