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Inspiration and Ideas for Your Next Food Drive or Fundraiser

Create a Theme

A successful food drive is compelling. It gets people involved and excited. It makes them want to participate and contribute. You don’t have to be a marketing wizard to conduct a food drive, but you’ll have a more successful event if you adopt a theme.

While themes sound challenging, they actually make event planning easier. If you know the theme is “fall bounty,” you’re halfway to knowing what your marketing materials should look like. Contributors will be able to relate more quickly to what you’re doing, too. They’ll understand your purpose and put it in a context that’s easy to remember.


You could also make each day of your food drive different with wish lists and themes. This will help ensure you’ll get a variety of useful foods. Here are some examples:

  • Meating the Need – Request high-protein foods like canned meats and peanut butter.
  • In the Garden – Request canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Kid Friendly – Request foods specifically for children like granola bars, fruit cups, Rice-Krispie treats, and other children’s school snacks.
  • Item of the Day – Working off of our “most wanted items list” assign an item for each day of the week. Doing this encourages your teams to work towards the common goal of gifting the Food Bank with the items they utilize the most

Skip a Meal

Encourage your team to skip one meal at a take-out restaurant and instead, donate the funds saved from that meal back to the Food Bank.

Walk, Run, Bike, and Swim-a-thons

Get people moving! Host a run, walk-a-thon, bike race, swimming competition or other sporting event, and ask sponsors to pledge food. That way everyone wins.

Department Food Drives

If you have permission to conduct a food drive where you work, hold a friendly competition among departments and offer a prize to the department that collects the most food. Be sure to post the daily collection totals for everyone to see, and have collection barrels in every department to make donating convenient.

Hold a Raffle

Holding a raffle is a classic way to raise money, or in this case, encourage people to donate food. First, establish your prizes. Prizes can be just about anything that appeals to the group you have in mind. One great choice is to ask volunteers to donate crafts they’ve made. Crafting is big business, and you may know a few jewelry makers, woodworkers or quilters who would be willing to donate finished pieces for a good cause. Buy rolls of raffle tickets at your local party store and conduct multiple raffles, one for each finished craft project. Display the crafts where they’ll be easy to inspect and admire. Make the cost of a ticket an item of food. If you get lots of craft donations, a bazaar theme is a nice touch that will pull everything together.

Make Food the Fee

If your school, church or company is sponsoring a sporting event, bake sale or dance, make a food donation part of the cost of admission. Be sure to give everyone advance notice, and provide a list of food items that are most needed at the food bank using the list provided on our community programs page.

Trick, Treat — What’s to Eat?

Around Halloween, pull a switch by conducting a food drive in which neighbourhood children go door to door in your condominium, apartment building or neighbourhood (accompanied by an adult) asking for canned food donations. Make sure to send out flyers well in advance so your neighbours are in on the plan. This is a good way for kids to begin to associate the holiday with community service and the spirit of giving, too. (This won’t work everywhere, so obtain the proper permissions before you get too far into the planning process.)

Make the Meal the Message

Cooking events like barbecues, tailgate parties and picnics are what summer is all about. They’re also settings that showcase the way food brings families and communities together. Food drives during food events like chili cook-offs and grilling competitions can be particularly poignant. The key to making them effective is in getting the word out ahead of time. Contact event sponsors early, and work with them to find ways to promote the event as a great opportunity to eat, have fun and share with the less fortunate.