Get your Cans Rolling: Hold a Canned Food Drive

Hold a canned food drive at your school, community center, or place of worship and collect canned goods to deliver to a nearby shelter or food pantry. Our friends at Feeding America have some tips for planning a successful canned food drive that will get you started.

Working in groups makes planning an event such as a food drive much easier. Have any tips for other groups planning a canned food drive?  Email us at!

Canned Food Drive Step-by-Step Guide

Thinking about organizing a canned food drive but feeling a little overwhelmed?  Follow these steps below or download a PDF version to help get organized!

At Least 1 Month Before: Planning

  • Suggest the idea of holding a food drive to your school club, youth group, other group or to a group of your friends.  Try and find at least 2-3 friends (or more!) who are as excited about the idea as you are.  Finding a team is an important first step!
  • Find an advisor who will be able to help your group plan the event.  This can be a community group leader, a teacher, a parent or another adult you trust.
  • Decide where you’d like to hold the food drive.  Talk to your school’s administration office, youth group leader, or whoever is responsible to ask for their permission and support. 
  • Pick a date or dates that would work for both the group and the venue.   We recommend that the food drive last one week to make sure people have enough time to donate.
  • Call a local food kitchen or food pantry to find out if they would be open to receiving donations from your food drive.  Find out what type of food they can accept – many food kitchens have specific needs and don’t accept perishable goods, so make sure you know this beforehand so you know what you can and can’t accept at the food drive!
  • Decide how you will be collecting the donations.  Will you need a table with volunteers or will there be a box where people can leave their donations?  Figure out which way works best and make a list of what you’ll need – tables, chairs, volunteers, a secure place to drop off donations, somewhere to store the donations at the end of each day, someone with a car to drive them to the food pantry at the end of the week, etc.  Make sure that you will have all of the items that you need for the food drive at least one week before!

Two Weeks Before: Action Plans!

  • Two Weeks Before: Publicize the event!  You can make flyers, create a Facebook event, talk about it on Twitter, make announcements to your class, send emails, or anything else you can think of.  Don’t forget to include important details, such as the date and time, location, and what types of donations (cans, cash, etc.) you are accepting.  You can also include any information you think is important such as your targeted goal or details about the food kitchen you are sending the cans to.
  • One-Two Weeks Before: Create a volunteer schedule.  For tabling events, you will need volunteers to collect donations, talk to people about what they can donate, and collect and store the donations.  For canned food drives with drop-off boxes, you will need volunteers to sort through the donations at the end of the day to make sure there is nothing that you can’t accept and to make sure there is enough room in the boxes for the next day.
  • One-Two Weeks Before: Check in with the food pantry to make sure they’ll be expecting your delivery.  Set a day and time to drop off the donations.

During the Event

  • Event Week:  Make sure to continue to publicize the food drive to get as many donations as you can!   Don’t forget to keep a running tally of the types and quantities of donations you are receiving.   At the end of each day, tally and store your donations in a secure location.
  • If you have a goal, make a goal tracker to monitor your progress.  You can either have a poster at your booth or above the donation bin or you can announce your progress to your group at the beginning of each day.
  • Don’t forget to document!  Take photos of volunteers, people donating, and of the donations.
  • End of the Last Day: You’ve made it!  Now for the fun part – delivering the cans to the food pantry.  Take a final tally of the donations and drop them off at the food pantry.

After the Event

  • Publicize your success!  Let people know how many donations your group collected for the food pantry.  Thank them for their contribution and let them know how their contributions will be used.  It makes people feel good to know they were part of something big.
  • Celebrate – you deserve it! 
  • Don’t forget to let us know it went!  Send us an email or contact us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Revolution Hunger is a campaign that harnesses the power of teens to make a lifelong commitment to take on the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world. We know that we can each help fight hunger, in our own unique way.

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