How to Organize a Successful Youth Food Drive

How to Organize a Successful Youth Food Drive

A food drive is an excellent way to teach young people about volunteering and the benefits received, issues you’ll face and the skills needed to run a successful drive. The reason it is a good choice to teach these philanthropist lessons is threefold:

  1. Food is always needed in every community,
  2. people tend to donate to food drives without too much of a debate on political issues,
  3. and it is easy for kids to understand the need for food.

So, if you have a willing youth group or a group of families, follow these tips to organizing a successful food drive:

Decide to do a food drive as a group, then set a goal. If the kids are not interested in a food drive, it won’t succeed not matter how hard you work at it. Allow them to decide it is a good idea first. Then, set a goal. For instance, you could weight the food and set your goal to the combined weight of your favorite athletes. Or you could count the pieces of food and try and reach 1,000. There are many ways to do this and no wrong way. When you have decided, make a poster depicting the goal and the levels to get there.

Sign up enough parent and adult helpers. To make the food drive run smoothly, I suggest for ages 9- to 14-years-old, one adult for every three kids and for ages 14+ I suggest one adult for every five teens. It is not so much that the kids will miss behave as it is important that the kids and teens stay on task and they will need frequent reminders and motivation to do that, especially because they are doing this together.

Choose your Food Bank contact person. One adult from your group should contact and be the go between with the person at the Food Bank in your local area. Try and connect with someone who has a key to the Food Bank so it will be easier to set drop off times. This person needs to check all food drive dates and times with their Food Bank contact before fliers are printed up. They need to make up a list of names of people who will be dropping off food to the Food Bank for their group and they should also know who to give money donations to, if the need should arise(I have found that it usually does).

Decide how you will be doing your food drive. Will you walking door-to-door dropping off bags one day and picking them up the next day or week? Or will you hand out fliers in groups for a week announcing a drop off times and places? Talk about the pros and cons with the kids. Vote on how it is going to be done, taking the availability of the adults into account as well.

Allow anyone in your group to create a half-page picture for your flier. Run it as a contest and give them one week to get it done. Allow the group to vote which flier wins and use it for promotional purposes. You can always use more than one.

Write out an information paper for all of the kids in the group complete with permission forms. Let parents know what their child will be doing and when on part of the paper and get a return part for them to sign and give back to you. Be sure to ask them to participate, listing what jobs are available.

Get the group to write out what the community flier needs to say. After you have decided on how the food drive will be done, get that information down on paper so your community knows when and where to go and give you the food. Be sure to list types of foods allowed and highlight foods that the Food Bank is requesting.

Call around to get donations for printed fliers and paper bag donations if you are doing a door-to-door campaign.

Advertise using posters, fliers at banks and in store windows, call the local papers and see if they will donate a ad for you, do an event page on FaceBook and invite everyone. A nice thing to add to your advertising is to remind folks that the Food Bank takes donations all year around and how they can go about donating at other times as well.

One very successful place to have a drop off day at is in the parking lot of a community grocery store. Have shifts of kids and adults be available to take drop offs all day and hand out more fliers to shoppers that day. As people go in the store, give a flier. They will come out with stuff for you. Be prepared to fill a car truck at the drop off sight and go directly to the food bank with each shift.

Write thank you notes to those who helped your group. A simple thank you makes people feel good. This is a good way to model gratitude to the kids.

Do a follow up talk with your group when the food drive is over. Talk about how good it feels to give, get the kids to give their own examples of what they liked about their volunteer effort. Recognize the work they did whether or not they reached the goal. Congratulate them if they did reach their goal and talk about ways they could carry on their efforts if they are still interested in making their goal.

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