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Food/Fund Drives

Host a Food/Fund Drive

We know how much you want to help and we want your efforts to do the most good!

Food Drives are a fun way to get your community, team, organization, or group involved in serving our neighbors in need. While we certainly accept non-perishable food and essentials, food drives can actually be costly and time consuming for all involved. Because we’re able to procure food at wholesale or lower costs, we hope you’ll consider some fun, new ways to give back.

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Food Drive  vs.

  • When food is collected, donors either go shopping and pay full price for food or they clean out their pantries.
  • They must take the food to the collection location.
  • Food is stored during the drive and then delivered to our warehouse or picked up by our drivers.
  • Every item must be inspected, sorted, cleaned if needed and re-boxed for distribution.
  • Sometimes jars break and cans get dangerously dented, so some food ends up getting thrown away.
  • Some donated items are too old or unsafe to distribute.
  • Sometimes our barrels are mistaken for trash cans and we have to make sure any trash is discarded and items that come in contact with it are cleaned or thrown away.
Host a Food Drive

Fund Drive

  • We can distribute 3 meals for every dollar donated!
  • Funds allow us to order food by the truckload from grocers, manufacturers, wholesalers, farmers and ranchers.
  • Most if it is ready to distribute and requires less handling.
  • We can also get fresh produce and perishable frozen and refrigerated foods, not easily donated through a drive.
  • 93 cents of every dollar we receive goes to our food distribution program.
  • We will use your donations wisely. We’re accredited by the BBB and have a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

Host a Fundraiser

Most-needed Food Items

Non-perishable items can be used for both our BackPack Program and direct distribution to clients through our partner agencies. Some wish list items include:

  • canned fruits and vegetables
  • peanut butter
  • canned tuna and chicken
  • dry pastas
  • boxed macaroni and cheese
  • canned soups

Note: Perishable, homemade, and home-canned items cannot be accepted.

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Instead, Host a Virtual Fund Drive

Did you know only 1% of the food we distribute comes from individual or team food drives? $1 can help us buy up to 5 lbs of food!
Please consider hosting a virtual food drive instead of, or in addition to a traditional drive. It’s effective, secure and convenient. You get your own page to customize using our Every Day Hero platform and a link to share via email and social media.

Create a competition at your office or for your team or group and see who can raise the most, all without driving to the store or collecting cans.

If you’re celebrating a special event or remembering/honoring a friend or loved one, you can host a virtual food drive too.

A $20 donation can “fill” an entire barrel full of food!

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Food/Fund Drive Resources

Need some help getting your drive going? Download these resources:

  • Food/Fund Drive Toolkit
  • BackPack Food Drive Wish list
  • Poster Template (8.5″x11″)
  • Poster Template (11″x17″) – coming soon!
  • Email and Social media posts – coming soon!

Food Drive FAQs

I'm thinking about hosting a food drive. What do I do first?

  1. Get in touch with us! Contact us to let us know that you’re hosting a food drive. That helps us plan on a delivery or arrange a pick up for 1,000 or more items/pounds. 
  2. Download our toolkit and visit our Food Drive Help section on our website. 
  3. Host a Virtual Fund Drive for an even faster, more impactful way to help us fulfill our mission!

How long should I hold my drive?

We find that most successful drives are from one day to two weeks long. An end date and/or goal provides a sense of urgency for your supporters to give. It also helps to have an incentive for people to give (raffle, prize, pizza party, etc.). Remember to promote it!

How much is 1,000 lbs of food?

On average, each item donated weighs about one pound. Thus, 1,000 pounds of food is roughly 1,000 items. That fills between 6-8 food drive barrels. 

Do you provide barrels for collecting food?

Yes. If you are collecting more than 500 lbs of food (our barrels are 30 gallons and hold approximately 150 items/lbs of food). That’s the equivalent of 3-4 filled barrels, you may request our help with delivery and pick-up of barrels by contacting us. Barrels are available on a first come, first served basis.

What if I don't collect 1,000 items or pounds?

If you plan on hosting a small food drive, you can use sturdy boxes to collect the items in. At the end of your food drive you can drop off your collections at our warehouse. If dropping off food is not convenient, please consider hosting a virtual food drive.

Can you pick up my items?

If you collect 1,000 items or more, we can arrange a pick up during a time that our trucks are in your area. Please contact us to let us know your drive schedule so we can be aware that you may need a pick up. When you bring your donations to our warehouses, it saves us about $150 in fuel and labor costs and avoids a delay in picking up. We can also take a photo to promote your drive drop off on our social media channels!. Donations can be dropped off during regular business hours. 

How do I drop off donations?

Bringing in your donations to our warehouses saves us about $150 in fuel and labor costs. It will also be more convenient for you as you finish your drive. Drop offs can be made during regular business hours. When entering the Food Bank of the Southern Tier parking lot, park in the visitor parking lot and enter through the Main Entrance. Your donation will be handled in the front lobby area and a receipt provided for your records. If the volume of food is too large to be carried into the lobby, you will be asked to drive around to the loading dock area where unloading assistance will be available. With advance notice, we can even take a photo to promote your generosity!

What items can you accept?

We accept most non-perishable items (cans, jars, packages, etc..) Glass containers are accepted but discouraged due to breakage.

We also accept non-food items such as unopened pet food, unused toiletries and diapers.

We highly recommend download our Wishlist and hosting a BackPack food drive to collect our most needed items for our BackPack Program for kids.

Are there donations you can't accept?

  • We cannot accept or distribute baby food in glass jars from food drives. If received, we are required to disposed of them.
  • We are unable to accept items donated through food drives that are perishable, home-baked or home-canned.
  • While we can accept items close to or just past their use-by day, items 12 months past use-by dates are disposed of.
  • We can accept slightly dented cans (less than a dime sized dent, not on a seam or rim), we cannot accept opened or damaged items.
  • We can accept unused, unopened toiletries and household products.
  • We don’t accept used clothing or household goods like appliances or furniture.

How do I promote my drive?

Download our Toolkit for promotion ideas. 

Visit our Resources page for posters, email and social post templates, and our wishlist of most needed items.

Your Virtual Food Drive can be easily promoted online through email and social media. 

Will the Food Bank provide staff and/or promote my drive?

Due to the volume of food drives, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier is unable to promote food drives other than the Fill the Bus community food drive, Spread the Love Peanut Butter Drive (in February), and a few extremely large public drives at our discretion. With limited staff, we cannot offer personnel to man barrels or help with food drives beyond barrel service for drives of at least 1,000 pounds.

If you want help promoting your drive, tag us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and we can share your post to expand your reach to the public. 

For more promotional items and templates for emails and social media, visit our Resources page. 

Let us know that you’re hosting a food/fund drive so we can support you! Contact:
Missy Knowles, Food Sourcing Manager