This article, “Stop Donating Canned Goods to Food Drives…” has been making the rounds on social media this week. We have received several requests for NourishNC to comment on this article so here we go….
First, let’s start with a philosophy that we believe should drive all giving. The best thing a nonprofit can do is encourage people to give in ways that makes them FEEL connected to our organizations. The best thing a donor can do is ask what nonprofits NEED. Where these two things meet, great things happen.
Ok, but that didn’t answer your question. Should I donate canned goods to NourishNC? If that’s how you feel connected to our work, then the answer is yes, absolutely. To make your donation more impactful here are 7 tips and tricks for hosting food drives. Note: NourishNC is not a food bank and as such we have different needs and restrictions. We are not speaking on behalf of any organizations other than our own.
1) What Do We Need? See our “Most Wanted” list and ask people to donate these specific items. This list tells you exactly what we need at any given time. Quality over quantity: we would rather have a small food drive that has exactly what we need rather than a large food drive with items we cannot use.
Staff and volunteers inspect, sort, and then donate food items that do not fit our needs.
2) Avoid Donating Expired Food: Many expired foods are safe for years after the code out date. However, NourishNC does not serve expired food to our kids. Often when people hear “food drive” the first thing they do is grab that can of beans that has been sitting in the back of their cupboard for years. Expired food does not help NourishNC feed kids. We had food items come in this year that were dated as far back 2003!
Again, staff and volunteers inspect, sort, and then donate expired food items to local food pantries.
3) No Junk Food Please: NourishNC does not serve chips, candy, cookies or other unhealthy foods to our kids.
4) Make Plans to Deliver It: We love that you did a food drive for us but having to pick it up can be difficult given our small staff. By making plans to drop it off here you are freeing up time for us to work on other mission critical things. If you cannot drop it off we will gladly pick it up.
5) Be Careful With Incentives or Discounts: When people are hosting events they often offer discounted admission in exchange for donated canned goods at the door. More times than not, the cash value of the discount was significantly higher than the value of the canned goods-especially when expired and erroneous foods are removed. In some cases it makes more sense to donate the cash.
6) Fun, Competitive, and Themed Food Drives Work Best: Food drives do well when they are fun and/or competitive. Try themed days centered around our most wanted list like “Macaroni Monday” or “Tuna Tuesday.” Competitions between participants with prizes and awards work great too. Setting an aggressive goal also helps. See this fun list for other ideas.
7) Host a Food Drive in January or June: NourishNC feeds children all year-round but the majority of food drives tend to be during the holidays (November & December) or when the school year begins (August & September). We would love to see high qaulity food drives all year.
We hope this helps. We are so thankful for anyone who supports NourishNC, regardless of how. There are so many ways to get involved with NourishNC. See this page for other ways to help us feed 685 hungry children in 35 schools. We can’t do it without you.
-Steve McCrossan, Executive Director