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Why Run a Food Drive?

Open Table relies on food drives year round from the local community in order to meet the needs of its clients that cannot be met through our partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank, local grocers, and farms.  These non-perishable items – including your donations,  are accompanied by fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs, and prepared foods to help our clients prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families.  Without these valuable contributions, we would not be able to serve the 300+ families we serve each week in our community.

What Does a Food Drive Look Like?

A food drive can be as big or small as you wish.  It may be a group of friends all contributing a themed donation at a get together, a neighborhood working together to support its local community, or an organization or team organizing a larger scale public food drive.  Working together towards a greater goal is a meaningful way to promote team building, facilitate bonding within your group, and support your community.  

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.
PARTICIPANTS: Will the food drive be open to the public or within your known community of people?
LENGTH: Think about how long you want your drive to last. A week, a day, an ongoing effort. It’s up to you.
GOAL: Consider using 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. Be sure to check out the Target Foods document accessed from the Food Drives page on our website when creating your theme.
Getting Started

Register your Food Drive activity with us!  Once you register your activity, an Open Table volunteer community coordinator will contact you and work with you to ensure you have a fun and successful activity.

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.

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:

Email
Social Media (tag us @opentablema)
Printed of handmade signs
Your organization’s website
Word of mouth

If open to the public, you will have the opportunity to supply Open Table with all of the details when you register your event; we will promote your food drive through our standard media outlets.

Flyers, Logo, & More – Whether your food drive is open to the public or within a private group, you will want to create materials to promote it. Go to Open Table to access customizable food drive flyers – suitable for email or print, download the Open Table logo, get the Target Food Donations list to share, and more. COMING SOON!

Signs & Banners –  You may borrow a customizable (add your own day, date, times) sandwich board – great to place in the neighborhood for neighborhood food drives, or a general Open Table Food Drive banner – perfect if you have a centralized location you can use to promote and/or collect donations.

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!

Important: We accept all non-perishable food and grocery items. Nothing goes to waste! However, we cannot use expired or opened donations. Please be sure to check each item.

Helpful Hint:  This saves valuable volunteer time and helps ensure our clients only receive good food.

Deliver to Open Table

You will be asked for your delivery date and preferred drop-off location when you register. Your Open Table Community Coordinator will work with you to organize the delivery of your donations to one of our locations. Please contact us at fooddonations@opentable.org if you have any questions.

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
  • Wake up Call – coffee, teas, oatmeal, cereals
  • 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
  • Going Hungry is Nuts – nuts, dried fruits, and snack mixes
  • Boston Tea Party – teas, coffees, hot chocolate, jams & jellys
  • Souper Bowl party – soups and stews

Always needed foods:

  • Cereal (whole grain, low sugar preferred)
  • Oatmeal or whole grain hot cereals
  • Jam and/or jelly
  • Coffee (ground or instant, not coffee pods)
  • Tea and/or hot chocolate
  • Almond or soy milk (shelf stable)
  • White tuna in water
  • Stews and/or other canned meat proteins
  • Pasta sauce (marinara, with meat and/or veggies)
  • Soups (hearty, kid-friendly, vegetarian and/or cream style)
  • Side dishes (pilaf, noodle dishes, whole grain side dishes)
  • Gluten-free side dishes/foods of any type
  • Nuts, dried fruits, snack mixes
  • Snack-size juice boxes
  • Snack-size milk or chocolate milk boxes