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Tips: Donating to Food Banks

Respecting the needs of local partners:

When organizing a food drive, it is critical to work in conjunction with your local food bank.  A hastily-organized local food drive can actually put a strain on the local agency and expend time and money better spent feeding the hungry.  Not all food banks have the resources to sort cans, examine expiration dates, verify food safety, and distribute goods.

Following are three ways you can help support your local food bank.

Volunteer at your local food bank or hunger-relief agency

Food banks and the agencies they serve (soup kitchens, food pantries, and emergency shelters), are in need of volunteers to serve and sort food, answer phones, and provide office support. However, these activities are best coordinated directly with your local food bank or neighborhood feeding organization.  You can find the food banks closest to you by visiting

Support a virtual food drive: the efficient solution

Because food banks typically handle truckload size donations of food, a virtual food drive is one of the most efficient ways to help get more food to more hungry Americans by maximizing the dollar. Just like traditional food drives, virtual food drives allow you to shop items, engage your friends, and build a service community. In addition, you can:

  • Stretch your dollar by shopping in bulk.  For every dollar you donate, Feeding America can provide 7 meals to men, women, and children facing hunger in our country.
  • Ensure the Food Bank gets the food items it most needs.
  • Reduce distribution and sorting costs.

By participating in a virtual food drive, you can help your food bank acquire the food they need to feed your community.  A virtual food drive is easy:

    • Create an account: at the Feeding America food drive.
    • Plan a Kick-Off event: Kick-off your virtual food drive with an event! You can host a party and ask each attendee to sign a pledge. You can partner with your faith group to request donations at service. Consider alerting local media.

During your virtual food drive:

  • Consider incentives: Motivate your friends and co-workers to donate by creating a competition or organizing a raffle. Keep track of which group purchases the most food. Record which individual contributes the greatest number of virtual cans. Recognize the donors with certificates or awards.
  • Spread the word: Decide how people will be encouraged to participate. The most successful way to build momentum is to ask your personal network to contribute. These requests will be most successful when made in person or by phone. Flyers and emails are useful, but less successful.

After your virtual food drive ends:

  • Celebrate: Report the total amount of food donated with all your participants. Thank your participants. Consider how you could do it better next time. Plan your next drive!

Become An Advocate

Hungry Americans need more than just food.  They need committed and trained advocates who support public policy changes to bring hunger-relief to our nation. Whether it's writing a letter, making phone calls, educating your friends and family, or sharing your story, you can help us feed hungry Americans. Learn more about the actions you can take to relieve hunger at Feeding America's hunger action center.

Continue to Set Concrete Goals »

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