Food drives stretch our budget, and they are also fun to do! Whether you're a student in need of community-service hours, or part of a club, team, or local organization that wants a hands-on project, our food drive guidelines show you how to help your neighbors in need on your own schedule and in your own way. We ask that you do two things once you finish collecting: check the expiration dates on all items, discarding any foods that have passed their date. We cannot give out expired food! Also, if possible, sort items by type (tuna, canned vegetables, etc.) into bags, which will save us a lot of time when unpacking a food drive.

1. Plan your drive: what will you collect, when, how, and where?

2. Promote your drive, both within your organization and in the wider community, through posters, flyers, emails, social media, and word of mouth. Send reminders!

3. Collect the items: at a central drop-off point, from people's doorsteps, at a supermarket, etc.

4. Check expiration dates and discard any expired food.

5. Sort the items by type and place in separate bags or boxes.

6. Deliver your drive to the pantry, after confirming drop-off time with pantry staff ahead of time.

What should you collect?


1. Non-perishable foods

2. Healthy items, such as whole grains, low-sugar cereals, and low-sodium canned goods

3. Pantry staples: tuna, peanut butter, soup, beans, rice, and shelf-stable milk; herbs/spices/olive oil

4. Non-food essentials, such as diapers/wipes, personal-care items, and cleaning supplies             


1. Items past their expiration date (please check; you make more work for us if we have to dispose of your expired food)

2. Dented, rusty, leaky cans, or unlabeled cans

3. Glass jars

4. Open packages (exception: those with individually wrapped packets inside)


Make it easy for donors--leave empty grocery bags and flyers on front porches in your neighborhood; return in a week (or two) to pick up whatever they would like to donate.

Ask your supermarket if you may do this drive: greet customers at entrance and hand out mini-shopping lists; have signs on the appropriate store shelves, asking customers to buy items for the food pantry; thank customers and collect their food donations at exit.

Have fun with your drive! Choose a catchy name (Tons of Tuna, Full of Beans, Souped-Up) or theme (breakfast foods, natural/organic, kids' healthy favorites) for your drive.

Don't limit yourself to food--collect diapers and wipes (Oh Baby!), personal-care items (Personal Best), or brand-new socks in all sizes (Socktoberfest), or any drive for new or gently used clothing or linens. 

If you want to conduct a drive, please contact us for ideas via email at or call 973-746-4669.