Seeing all the ways that the community gives back during the holiday season always brightens our souls! It seems you can’t go anywhere without seeing our ubiquitous food drive barrels, or someone accepting donations on our behalf, and we are so grateful to be the recipients of the holly in your hearts! The 382,000 Utahns who face hunger are even more grateful for your generosity! We get a LOT of questions this time of year about hosting food drives, so thought we’d provide some information, tips and best practices!
Why are food drives important? You may or may not know that food drives make up 5% of the food we collect annually. While that may not sound like a lot, it’s a very important 5% because it provides a variety of food that we can’t match with purchased foods or through commercial donations. When people donate to food drives, they often are donating the same food their family eats, and you can bet that another family would appreciate it just as much. We get our best prices when we purchase large quantities of the same food, and that may not always match some of our clients dietary restrictions, so having a variety of food helps to eliminate food waste as well!
What are your most needed items? We always request nutritious items that are low in sugar or sodium. High-protein staples such as canned meats or tuna are great items to fill tummies, and boxed meals and pasta are always a favorite of our clients. Canned fruits and vegetables help to round out a balanced diet too!
Can I donate turkeys or hams? This may surprise you, but we actually prefer to receive non-perishable items in larger quantities than a perishable item that has to be consumed quickly after it’s prepared. In addition, many of our clients may not have the equipment or capability to prepare such a meal, not to mention the ability to eat it before it goes bad. While we do agree that everyone deserves a holiday meal, we feel that it’s more important to give clients food that can stretch for many meals over a designated special meal. People facing food insecurity are not only concerned about where their next meal will come from, but the ones after that, and after that, and so forth.
How do I host a food drive? You can easily host a traditional food drive or virtual food drive, and we have all the tools you need to succeed! You can sign up to host a food drive here, and if your goal exceeds 500 pounds of food, we can even provide transportation! To put that in perspective, that’s about half a truck bed full of food. Of course, we appreciate food drives of all sizes, so if that seems difficult to achieve, you can pick up the supplies at either our Salt Lake or St. George warehouses, and return them with the food when you are done.
How do I make my food drive a success? The biggest factor for success is considering the audience you are trying to reach, and how to motivate them to support your efforts. What works for some groups doesn’t work for others, and one size does not fit all. A little healthy competition is an incredible motivator, so consider challenging a partner (or competitor) to collect more food. Communication is also key – whether it’s internal communication or even social media, people need to know about your effort. Feel free to tag us on social media as we love to engage with our supporters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
I heard you can stretch $1 into $7.48 worth of goods and services…should I just donate money? This also depends on your audience. While it is true that monetary donations go the furthest, we still need food drive items so we can offer variety. If you want to add a financial donation as part of your food drive efforts, consider hosting a Virtual Food Drive as well, or in place of a traditional food drive. You’ll get a designated link you can send to people, and they can select the items they want us to purchase while capitalizing on our purchasing power! It’s like grocery shopping without leaving your house!
Want to know more? Be sure to visit our Holiday webpage for more ideas on how you can help us fight hunger statewide this holiday season!