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How to Host a Successful Food Drive this Holiday Season

With the holidays right around the corner, Good Shepherd Food Bank and our network of over 600 hunger-relief partners across Maine are preparing to help families put holiday meals on their tables. There are many Maine families in need and hosting a food drive through your office, church or school can be a great way to help keep shelves stocked and raise awareness about hunger in your community.

The most effective way to host a food drive is to collect food for the local hunger-relief partners in your community. By donating food locally, you help cut down on transportation, storage, and handling costs and provide free food directly to the partners who need it most. Your food drive still supports the Good Shepherd Food Bank network, but it’s much more efficient than delivering the food you collect to the Food Bank distribution centers. It’s a win-win for all!

Before contacting your friends, family and community to contribute their canned goods, here are three things to keep in mind when planning your holiday food drive:

1. Select one (or more!) of the Good Shepherd Food Bank’s local partners in your area.

Visit our Food Map to find a partner near you. Give them a call and ask what they need. Find out what’s on their wish list of items that they know your neighbors will use, and ask about hours of operation and preferred methods for dropping off food.

Be prepared that you may need to speak with more than one pantry to find one that can easily accept your donation. It sounds strange, but the holiday season is often the busiest time for food banks and food pantries, and some may not be able to process food drive donations. While a sudden influx of donated holiday meals may seem generous, it may add more challenges for some organizations. Do your work ahead of time to ensure your help is welcome and that you’re collecting food donations for an agency that can really make use of them.

2. Get your family and friends involved

Your holiday food drive can inspire others to get involved in the fight against hunger. If you’re hosting a holiday get-together, ask your local food pantry what items they need, and asks your guests to bring one item from that list. You could also ask your employer to help sponsor a food drive and see if they’ll offer an incentive to other employees who participate, like a raffle prize or a casual dress day. Don’t forget to thank everyone at the end of the food drive by sharing a photo of all your donations.

3. Consider hosting a virtual holiday food drive

Fundraising on behalf of your local food bank or food pantry is a great alternative to the traditional food drive. The money raised through a virtual food drive allows us to turn donated dollars into more meals because we can buy groceries at a reduced price – much lower than what you would pay to the buy the items yourself. In fact, for every dollar donated to Good Shepherd Food Bank, we’re able to supply three meals. Monetary donations allow us to purchase items that meet the specific dietary and nutritional needs of Mainers in need.

Sadly, hunger isn’t just a problem facing families during the holidays. After the holidays, many food banks and pantries struggle to find enough volunteers and dedicated supporters to get food to every family in need. You can help throughout the year becoming a monthly donor or volunteering.

Whether you choose a traditional or virtual food drive, you’re making a big difference this holiday season. No one should go hungry, ever.

Thank you for supporting Good Shepherd Food Bank and our hunger-relief network!