As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, food pantries and food banks across the U.S. assist millions of families in obtaining holiday meals. There are many families in need, so hosting a drive for food at your school, office, church, or other organization can be a wonderful way to aid in keeping shelves stocked. This also raises awareness about any hunger that exists in the community. Before asking people to raid their cupboards and local grocery stores, keep these things in mind.


Start by Making Contact

Email or call the local food bank in advance of the holidays so that its rules and accepted food types can be learned. Often, food banks will have a member of the staff who is trained to help make volunteer food drives successful. They might be able to provide collection boxes, posters that display pertinent information, and sample emails that offer gratitude. Also, not all food pantries and banks can accept donations during the holidays. The increase in people seeking help, as well as the influx of well-meaning volunteers wishing to help share holiday cheer, add up to a very busy time.

Involve Kin and Kith

When one starts a holiday food drive, one can serve as an inspiration for others to involve themselves in the war against hunger. Even a simple collection of donations at a holiday get-together can make a difference. First, of course, ask the food bank what is needed, provide that list to the guests, and then experience the fulfillment of helping those in need with what they need. Another route is to ask one’s employer to assist with sponsoring a food drive. Perhaps an incentive such as a raffle prize or day for dressing casually can be offered for those who participate.

Go Virtual

Instead of collecting physical foodstuffs, consider a fundraising drive. This is a wonderful alternative to the traditional drive to fill food pantries. The money raised still goes to food, but it allows donated dollars to be transformed into more meals because groceries can be purchased at reduced prices. Banks can then choose the foods that best meet the needs of people using their services. Consider also carrying on the generosity of the season well past its end.