Thank you for your interest in holding a food drive to benefit the communities we serve! Food drives organized by churches, businesses, associations, schools and other groups are critically important as we work to keep our shelves packed with nutritious food for the hungry. This is especially true during the spring and summer months when our Food Pantry shelves become critically empty.
This packet contains information about holding a successful food drive and materials and forms to make your drive easy and successful. If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-988-9656 (speak with Terri Kelly, Food Pantry Manager, or Jennie Bush, Community Outreach Manager)
Every food donation helps in the fight against hunger – no matter how small or large. Thank you for your efforts. They are greatly appreciated!
Yes. Even though Northern Virginia is considered one of the wealthiest counties in the country, we still face a poverty rate of 5%. This means, based on US Census figures, that 90,183 people are living in poverty, 30% of whom are children.
Western Fairfax Christian Ministries (WFCM) is the primary safety net for families and individuals when an emergency strikes, and for the growing number of working poor who are unable to make ends meet. WFCM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) which provides compassionate, life-essential services to reduce hunger and the risk of homelessness. WFCM operates a client-choice food pantry and food rescue operation, provides emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities and other basic needs, and offers financial counseling. WFCM works to help those in western Fairfax County, who are food insecure.
Food insecurity means that individuals or families are so limited in their resources to buy food that they are running out of food, reducing the quality of their food, cutting out meat, feeding their children unbalanced meals, or skipping meals so that their children can eat.
Our clients range from the working poor (families or individuals), to seniors who have fixed/limited incomes, to professionals who have lost their jobs. We provide emergency food assistance to a growing number of families each year: through direct assistance to over 400 households each month in our client choice Food Pantry; distributing emergency food as needed; providing holiday food assistance for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals; and by supplying community partners with bulk food for soup kitchens, shelters, church programs, etc.
In FY 2015 we provided 32,786 bags of food to 891 families (2,685 individuals) through our Food Pantry. WFCM also gave 401 households emergency financial assistance totaling $195,710 for rent, utilities, transportation, medication, and other basic needs. Through our 2015 Holiday Food Program, WFCM served 1,823 households with food and/or gift cards for Thanksgiving and Christmas food assistance.
Western Fairfax Christian Ministries obtains much of its food through food rescue operations and food drives. Staff and volunteers pick up good food that would otherwise be thrown away, due to overstocking or close to sell by date on the product, from local grocery stores. Several elementary schools participate in a “Food Recycling Program” and have purchased a refrigerator for their cafeterias in which students place unopened milk, cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, etc. The food is brought to WFCM’s Food Pantry for storage including refrigeration once a week by volunteers. Food drives from businesses, churches, swim teams, VBS camps, neighborhoods, individuals in the community provide the majority of our non-perishable food. Two large food drives held each year help keep our shelves full most of the year: the Boy Scout “Scouting for Food” in November and the Fairfax County’s “Stuff the Bus” in February. Still, the most critical need for food donations is in the spring and summer months.
This sounds like a lot of work. How does Western Fairfax Christian Ministries get it all done?
We get it all done with an enormous amount of help from dedicated volunteers, concerned citizens and a small, but efficient staff. Volunteers are the heart and soul of WFCM. We simply could not operate without the help of our volunteers. Last year, 152 regular volunteers provided 8,948 hours of volunteer service in WFCM’s administrative offices, food pantry, and client services.
1. Get approval from the leadership or management of your church/organization/community group.
You need these folks to help you promote the food drive and make it a success, and you also need to follow any organizational rules about workplace giving and soliciting of items.
2. Select a food drive committee.
Food drives are fun, but they also require a certain amount of planning in order to be successful. Gather a committee that wants to be an integral part of your drive and assign everyone specific tasks. Some of the duties you may want to assign are as follows: Coordinator to oversee all details and answer all questions; Advertising/promotion; Photographer (send photos to WFCM); Coordinator of food collection boxes and food storage; Coordinator of packing and transportation of food to WFCM.
3. See if your company will do a matching financial gift.
Many companies are happy to make a matching gift of their employee contributions – even when employees are giving food instead of cash. See if your company will donate a dollar for every pound of food raised.
4. Set your goals.
Determine the amount of food you want to raise. You may want to think in terms of raising so many pounds of food per person and then take an educated guess as to how many boxes of food would be the equivalent. If you held an event previously, advertise your past success and set a goal to better the food total by 25% or more. Issue a challenge; ask them to bring in more food than what their kids weigh!
5. Kick it off!
Explain the importance of your food drive to WFCM’s Food Pantry, educate your participants how many families struggle with food insecurity (fear of not knowing where their next meal will come from) and how Western Fairfax Christian Ministries helps to alleviate hunger through its client choice food pantry, announce goals and any incentives you have for meeting goals, and distribute other details about the food drive. Use WFCM’s FAQ sheets and other attached forms to help you with promotion. Periodically provide updates to the participants on the amount of food collected and encourage/remind them to donate through the end of the food drive.
6. Collect the food.
Place your signs, posters, and collection boxes in high traffic areas. Places such as the lobby and lunchrooms work best. Make sure you have an adequate supply of boxes, not too large that it’ll make it harder to carry them when filled with donations, and a place to hold and store food until the drive is over. Posters and box signs are included in the back of this packet. Make it fun!
Friendly competitions between groups can also help increase the amount of food donated. Offer a prize for the group that brings in the most donations, such as letting the winning group wear jeans on a Friday.
Challenge a person in a leadership position to perform an outrageous activity if your goal is met.
Hold your own “Canstruction” Contest.
Create competitions with lots of categories – largest individual donation, most protein, most unusual food or match your weight with pounds of food.
Create some themes for fun. Make each day of the week a designated food day for example: Mac and Cheese Monday, Tuna (or Chicken) Tuesday, White Bean (chickpeas, cannellini, butter, navy) Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday (shelf stable milk, juices), Fruity (we need all varieties!) Friday
7. Deliver Food to WFCM’s Food Pantry
Let WFCM know when you plan to deliver the food so we can plan for your delivery. WFCM can accept donations to the Food Pantry during donation hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. If a different delivery time is needed…