The Do’s and Don’ts of Donating to Food Banks
This blog was adapted from a post from Feeding America, originally written by Paul Morello on June 11, 2020.
The first Friday in September is National Food Bank Day, a day to reinforce the missions of food banks across the country to close the hunger gaps in their communities. It falls at the beginning of Hunger Action Month, a larger movement to encourage people nationwide to take action against hunger.
Both initiatives come at a time when food banks like the North Texas Food Bank are feeding more than double the amount of people during the COVID-19 pandemic than they were this time last year. At the same time, many food banks are seeing decreased donations from the grocery stores and manufacturers that helped them in the past.
As you think of ways to get involved this month (and onward), you may be wondering what food banks need. Should you start a food drive? Should you donate cash?
We have some do’s and don’ts about what food banks need right now (and what’s best to avoid) as we ensure our neighbors have enough food to eat during the pandemic and beyond.
Do: Make a monetary donation
It might sound simple, but right now, monetary donations are the most useful and efficient way to support food banks. These donations give food banks the flexibility and funds to respond wherever the need is highest. Whether that is purchasing more food to meet the demand, setting up new meal distributions, or simply putting gas into delivery trucks, cash ensures food banks can meet the demand in their communities.
ACTION: A great way to donate to NTFB right now is through North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 17 (but donations are already being accepted!). Visit here to donate: www.ntfb.org/givingday. All gifts are matched so your donation will have double the impact. You can also donate anytime on our website here.
Don’t: Be afraid to ask what your local food bank needs!
Every food bank is unique and in this unprecedented situation, what your food bank specifically needs might be different from what other food banks need or what your food bank has needed in the past.
Don’t: Start a physical food drive
In general, donating funds over food is the way to go when supporting a food bank. But that rule of thumb is even more relevant now as sorting and packing food drive donations is incredibly time-intensive for food banks, and this may not be possible with limited volunteers due to the pandemic.
ACTION: The North Texas Food Bank is accepting food donations at our Plano location only. You can learn more about the drop-off process and the foods in highest demand here. Or check out an even better alternative such as…
Do: Have all the fun of a food drive, while social distancing with a virtual food drive
Virtual food drives are the perfect way to support your local food bank. They help raise much-needed funds for food banks while also getting your family, friends, and even coworkers involved in the cause. Start a virtual food drive, and then on the next family FaceTime or work Zoom meeting, tell everyone about your food drive and maybe even incentivize with silly prizes!
Do: Donate your time
Sometimes, the thing your food bank needs most is you. NTFB is especially looking for volunteers to help pack emergency food boxes and distribute food at drive-thru pantries. We even have a way to volunteer without ever leaving your home through our Social Media Ambassador program!
ACTION: While some of our volunteer experiences are still limited, we encourage you to explore the different opportunities and find what is right for you.
Your support is critical to our success. Thank you for being a food bank advocate today, this month, and always.
Caryn Berardi is a Communications Specialist for the North Texas Food Bank.