September 21, 2022 | Empowering Our Neighbors

5 Great Alternatives to Canned Food Drives

Since Northern Illinois Food Bank purchases groceries wholesale, monetary contributions help to make sure our neighbors thrive. Making a cash donation, volunteering your time, involving your company or employer in matching giftsraising awareness on social media, and hosting fundraisers are incredible ways to fight hunger.

Canned Food Drives Are Less Efficient Than Alternatives

Canned food drives require the Food Bank to expend more resources. Frequently, donated cans are too old for consumption, grabbed unknowingly from household shelves and given after their expiration dates. Volunteers must sift through cans to expel old food and keep recipients safe. Even if new cans are donated, it takes hours for volunteers to sort and organize food. Additionally, cans are difficult to store and transport. Collecting and moving boxes of donated food requires time and money. Balanced, nutritious meals are especially important for food-insecure families.

Donating Time or Money to the Food Bank Makes a Huge Impact

Northern Illinois Food Bank is highly efficient thanks to the generosity of our community. Donating time through volunteer work, and donating funds, are both critical to our success helping our neighbors thrive.

Donating Funds to Northern Illinois Food Bank

Monetary donations allow the Food Bank to pay for the logistics of the operation, including refrigeration, trucking and so on. In some cases, it also allows the Food Bank to purchase healthy groceries for those in need, which is generally less than 5% of the Food Bank inventory since so much food is donated by farmers, growers, wholesalers and distributors. Approximately 96% of Food Bank revenue goes directly to programs that help support our food-insecure children, adults and senior neighbors.

Your employer may also be able to help fight hunger. Thousands of companies maintain Matching Gift programs that double or even triple employee donations. Ask your employer if they match charitable contributions to maximize the impact of your donation!

Sponsoring Food Bank events and engaging in Cause Marketing campaigns are also great ways for companies to raise money to alleviate hunger. 

Depending on the campaign or event, the Food Bank can sometimes support company recognition through logos and links in our newsletters and social media posts. Companies can also build camaraderie and make a difference by organizing a volunteer event together at one of our locations, which is a great teambuilding activity. Learn more on our volunteer pages.

Donating Time to the Food Bank

Last year volunteers donated 130,000 hours of their time to help distribute 78 million meals to families, seniors, and kids facing hunger in our community. Both individual and group opportunities are available. Much of the Food Bank’s product is distributed through a network of 900 partner agencies.

Fundraisers and Social Media Posts Increase Donations and Spread Awareness of Hunger

Social media mentions help increase traffic to our accounts. Posting about hunger insecurity helps bring attention to the need. By promoting Northern Illinois Food Bank events and volunteer opportunities, you can expand our reach and involve more community members in our mission. On birthdays or holidays, consider directing followers to check out our website and offer small donations. For every $1 donated, Northern Illinois Food Bank is able to provide $8 worth of groceries. By drawing social media attention to the Food Bank, you also remind food-insecure neighbors that there are resources to help. 

Fundraising, whether virtual or in-person, also provides amazing support to the Food Bank. Turn anything you’re passionate about into an event that fights hunger, whether a walk-a-thon, brunch, roast, gaming contest, DJ livestream or special occasion. Incorporate your talents, pastimes and interests to make a difference by selling hand-made crafts or baked goods. Your efforts have a huge impact to help neighbors thrive.

Whether planning events, connecting a company, volunteering time, donating money or involving friends, family and followers, your hard work and kindness helps Northern Illinois Food Bank and neighbors.