Before starting a food drive, please read the list of Food Items Currently Needed and call us at 301-216-2510 #4 so a HELP representative can guide you with instructions and specific needs.

A food drive that your participants will enjoy can be accomplished in 10 easy steps! Here’s how:

  1. Select a group the food drive will target, such as your workplace, Scouts group, church group, school club or sports team, book club, neighborhood, etc.
  2. Establish a time frame with beginning and ending dates
  3. Set a deadline for delivery to HELP a few days after the collection
  4. Develop a theme, slogan or focus for the food drive
  5. Establish a collection goal (e.g., the number of cans or pounds collected)
  6. Decide on what collection containers will be used (e.g., printer paper boxes are a good size)
  7. Decide where items will be collected and consider a busy spot that attracts lots of people
  8. Prepare the collection for HELP (sort by category and check cans for expiration dates)
  9. Call us so a HELP representative can confirm a delivery date to the Food Pantry
  10. Formally close the food drive by announcing the results and thanking all those involved!

How To Get Started


Marketing and Publicity
  • Publicize the food drive with:
    • Announcements, flyers, posters
    • Bulletin board displays
    • Banners
    • E-mail messages or phone calls to members
    • Presentations made to the group/organization
  • Decorate the collection boxes
  • Visually display the food that has been received as an encouragement to others to contribute
  • Create a giant thermometer to measure progress to the goal
  • Take photos of the collection area
Special Ideas

If you have a theme for your food drive, decide what foods will be collected and follow these guidelines to ensure your success.

Ideas to make your food drive more effective, include:

  • Hold a Hunger Awareness Day or Week
  • Distribute decorated grocery bags that are returned filled with food
  • Distribute shopping bags with attached shopping lists
  • Build a food sculpture or pyramid with the canned goods that are donated
  • Arrange for a tour of the HELP Food Pantry before or during the food drive
  • Create competition among groups (e.g.,largest individual donation, most protein products, matching your weight in food)
  • Throw a party and charge a bag of food for admission
  • Hold car washes/cake sales/coffees/brunches and ask for canned goods for admission
Food Drive Themes and Slogans

Good Morning


  • Cereal
  • Tea bags
  • Powdered milk
  • Canned fruit

Let’s Do Lunch


  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Canned soup
  • Canned meats (e.g., tuna)

Dinner Is Served


  • Canned chicken or salmon
  • Canned pork and beans
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Canned vegetables
  • Spaghetti, pasta, spaghetti sauce

Veggie Mania

  • Canned vegetables (low or no salt, if possible)

Special Needs Diet

Macaroni Mondays

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Pastas

Tuna Tuesdays

Provide recipients with heart-healthy fish like:

  • Canned tuna
  • Canned salmon

Wheaties Wednesdays


  • Cereals (hot and cold)
  • Dried milk

Fruity Fridays

Include healthy canned fruits like:

  • Applesauce
  • Peaches
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Pears

And Baby Makes…

A fund drive that focuses on parenting is always a hit. Include items such as:

  • Disposable diapers
  • Formula
  • Baby food

Father’s Day / Mother’s Day

Honor someone by donating a bag of groceries in their name.

Birthday or Anniversary

Celebrate by donating a matching number or pounds of canned goods.

Holidays Throughout the Year

Use the holidays to remind folks that their neighbors need assistance!