Looking for an act of kindness to do as a family? Why not organize a neighbourhood food drive! Not only are food drives a great way for kids and adults to learn more about their communities and the impact of Covid-19, but also to learn about empathy, global citizenship, and the importance of sharing and caring for each other. Food drives can help introduce kids to important social issues and human rights, and give them chance to practice skills like action planning, leadership, and advocacy. Organizing a community food drive is an excellent way for kids to learn more, give back, and make a difference.
The impact on food banks during Covid-19
Food Banks Canada recently reported that visits to food banks have increased across the country by 20% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 1 in 4 locations experiencing an up to 50% increase in demand. In March of 2020 when the pandemic first hit, Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank saw a record-breaking 200% increase in new clients accessing their food banks for the first time. And things haven’t slowed down. The Daily Bread Food Bank saw their busiest month in history in June 2021, with an all time high of 124,000 clients accessing their services that month. The story is the same in cities across North America.
“Many communities were experiencing increased usage even before the pandemic, which exacerbated existing issues and exposed deep rooted systemic issues that have had people on the brink of food insecurity.” Sacha Michna, Senior Manager, Community Partnerships and Events, Daily Bread Food Bank
How do food drives help the community
Everyone has an equal right to healthy, nutritious food. The right to food is a fundamental human right enshrined in a number of international legal and human rights instruments. This means countries and their leadership have a legal obligation to make food available, accessible and adequate for everyone. That said, food insecurity is an enormous issue worldwide, with people living without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Hosting a community food drive is one way that kids can help to support organizations whose missions it is to ensure that nobody has to go hungry in their communities.
Six steps to host a successful food drive
A food drive is a great family and kid-friendly volunteering opportunity. Contacting charities and learning about issues, encouraging neighbours and friends to participate and physically collecting donations is something families can do on their own time and in a safe and distanced Covid-friendly way. Kids can practice their research skills, action planning skills and leadership skills while learning about issues and ways to give back and help others.
Here are 6 easy steps to hosting a food drive in your neighbourhood:
- Research and choose a charity to donate non-perishable food to.
- Contact your charity and ask questions so you’re planning the most effective fundraiser possible.
- Draft a letter to your neighbours explaining your fundraiser. Ask them to leave non-perishable food items on their porches on a specific date at a specific time, which you will pick up and donate on your street’s behalf.
- Advertise your fundraiser by leaving a copy of your letter in all of your neighbours’ mailboxes and speaking to them about it, asking them to participate.
- Collect food items on the date and time you indicated in your letter.
- Donate everything you’ve collected on behalf of your neighbours and community!
This type of community fundraiser can be especially effective because you’ve made it so easy for others to participate in, and taken on the of logistics of donating items.
Tips to host a successful food drive
Here are some things to keep in mind to make your food drive as successful as possible!
- Provide ways for people to participate in a safe and contactless way
- Provide clear and specific instructions on how people can participate with a specific pick up date and time
- Engage your family and friends to help
- Ask local charities what tools and resources are already available to help you (for example, see the Daily Bread Food Bank's Community Champion resources
Questions to ask a charity
When reaching out to charities, not for profits, and organizations to partner with, here are some questions to ask:
- What food items are most in need?
- How can I get started with my fundraiser and what resources to you have for me?
- What is the best time of year for a fundraiser?
What food donations are most useful
Be sure to ask your partner charity what items are most in need and beneficial for their clients. Food items that are high in protein and non-perishable that have a long shelf life are often in demand. Examples of good donation items include:
- canned fruit and vegetables
- pasta sauce and canned tomatoes
- soups and stews
- rice or noodles
- lentils and beans
- peanut and other nut butter
- canned fish and meet
- tetra-pack milk and milk alternatives
- baby food and formula
You may also be able to donate non-perishable goods such as:
- toilet paper
- baby wipes
- pet supplies
- cleaning products