Hosting a Food Drive

We are so grateful for the many organizations and individuals in our community who host food drives for Open Table. Food drives not only generate food, they also generate awareness of the terrible problem of hunger in our communities. Hosting a food drive can be easy and fun, and it is a great project for a club, scout troop, school, business, or neighborhood to do together. There are four simple steps: plan, promote, collect, and deliver.

Plan Your Food Drive

A well planned food drive will be a successful food drive. Determine the key parameters for your food drive upfront.

WHEN: Decide when to hold your food drive. Our need is great all year long.

LENGTH: Think about how long you want your drive to last. A week, a day, an ongoing effort. It’s up to you.

GOAL: Or use a goal, such as a number of cans or boxes collected to target your food drive. Goals can be displayed and updated during the drive to help encourage donations.

THEME: A food drive doesn’t need a theme, but adding one can add to the fun.

SUPPLIES: Determine what you will need to run your food drive. Don’t forget promotional materials and bags and boxes for collecting the food.

Promote Your Food Drive

Getting the word out is one of the most important factors in a successful food drive. Let your community know about the food drive using:


Social Media

Printed of handmade signs

Your organization’s website

Word of mouth

And don’t forget to contact Open Table to let us know what you’re up to. We’d be happy to announce your food drive on our website and Facebook page. Contact us at

Important: We accept all non-perishable food and grocery items. Nothing goes to waste! However, please do not donate any opened or expired items.

Collect Food

We appreciate all donations. To best meet the needs of our guests, please consider the lists of food and grocery items that are in high demand, always needed, and appreciated.

The food collection process requires some coordination. Be sure to determine who will manage the food drive, where the food will be dropped off, and how it will be stored until delivery. Small to medium sized boxes work well for storage; paper ream boxes are a particularly good and manageable size. Bags can be used for lighter items such as cereal boxes.

Be sure to make the collection process fun! Consider challenges or prizes to boost enthusiasm. Decorate collection boxes to encourage donations. Or build a sculpture with collected cans. Get creative!

Deliver to Open Table

Donations are accepted at either of our pantry locations during our regular hours.

To arrange pick-up of delivery at other times, please contact the Pantry Coordinator at We are happy to accommodate your schedule if we can.

Announce Your Results!

It’s time to celebrate!

Don’t forget to let the community know the results of your efforts and that you appreciate their support. And let us know too! Although our pantries will see the food you’ve collected, we’d love to know more about your event. Send us photos or news from your event and we’d be happy to post it on our website and/or Facebook page. Contact us at And thank you for helping us help those in need.

Our Food Drive Planning Sheet can be printed to help you host a food drive.

Food Drive Planning Sheet   

Food Drive Theme Ideas

Add some fun and excitement to your food drive by specifying a theme for the food you collect. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Pasta Patrol – pastas, sauces, mac & cheese
  • Hunger is Baked – baking mixes and oils
  • Food Days – different foods each day of the week, such as Tuna Tuesdays or (canned) Fruity Fridays
  • Bean Counters – beans & rice
  • Winter is Coming – cold weather favorites such as stews, chili, and hot chocolate

High-demand Foods:

  • Cereal (whole grain first ingredient)
  • Dried beans & legumes (especially black beans & lentils)
  • Cooking oils (canola & olive, 12-24 oz)
  • Coffee (including instant) and tea
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Strawberry and grape jam/jelly
  • Soups (low sodium, protein > 7 grams/serving)
  • Canned corn (low sodium)
  • Whole grains (barley, couscous, quinoa, etc.)
  • Baking supplies and mixes
  • Nuts and raisins

Also needed:

  • Personal hygiene items (shampoo, toothpaste and brushes, soap, deodorant, feminine products ,etc.)
  • Paper bags with handles
  • Reusable grocery bags