New Hampshire’s Community Action Program has seen the pantry use rise dramatically, up 50% compared to the numbers of people who typically use the pantries. This is a story that’s being played out all over the country.

Food banks, other nonprofits, corporations and communities are stepping up to fill the need.  Here are some stories of some groups that are fundraising, collecting food donations and publicizing the cause.  If you work with a food bank or are interested in helping maybe some of these stories will give you some ideas of what you can do in your community.

Feeding America Serves Nationwide

Currently Feeding America (formerly known as America’s Second Harvest) is benefiting from multiple fundraising and awareness programs.

This season I’ve been addicted to the reality show The Biggest Loser and this week was its big finale.  The reality show teamed with Subway and General Mills all season long for the Pound For Pound Challenge.  The public was invited to register and for every pound lost, General Mills donates 14¢ to Feeding America.  You can still participate up til May 31st.

Bloomberg reports that Kellogg Boosts Cereal Donation as Food Bank Demand Jumps 30%:

Kellogg Co., the world’s largest cereal maker, will donate $10 million worth of Rice Krispies, Frosted Mini-Wheats and other products to U.S. food banks to help meet a 30 percent jump in demand. The 3.5 million pounds of cereal is in addition to the 25 million pounds of food and $500,000 in cash Kellogg gives annually to Feeding America

In an upcoming campaign Beyoncé and Hamburger Helper partner with the goal of helping Feeding America deliver more than 3.5 million meals to local food banks.  On May 26th the My Hometown Helper campaign will announce more information about concert promotions and a box top based donation system.

Another corporate campaign comes from KRAFT.  It asks for the participation of website visitors in order to determine how many boxes of Macaroni and Cheese will be donated.  The site is called Share a Little Comfort and all you have to do is click the “donate a free box” button.  Coupons for KRAFT Macaroni and Cheese products are there, ready to print out too.

Communities Rally to Help Local Food Banks

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden recently visited the Capital Area Food Bank in DC. In this video provided Mrs. Obama and representatives from Feeding America address the crowd of volunteers.

The Stamp Out Hunger nationwide drive from the National Association of Letter Carriers was held on Saturday May 9th. In Oklahoma mail carriers collected more than 630,000 pounds of food to benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. This was up from 480,000 pounds collected in 2008.

At the sixth annual Dish: Cuisine for Change in Minneapolis, Minnesota Second Harvest Heartland raised $366,900 to fight hunger in the 59 counties served by the organization.  The first-ever Hunger Heroes Director’s Award was presented to David Nasby, former vice president of the General Mills Foundation and founder of the nation’s first food bank network.

The Houston Food Bank recently benefited from a crawfish boil. (Crawfish boils are popular events in south Texas and Louisiana.  I’m not much on the critters.  I think I’ll stick with Catfish or Shrimp myself!)

Food banks in Utah are benefiting from the state’s new grocery rescue program.  Stores such as Albertson’s locations statewide donate food that is still good but close to sell by date.

In a story titled Filling the Void, Fundraising Success magazine profiles the Food Bank For New York City‘s stepped up efforts to provide wholesome food to struggling New Yorkers.  This article profiles how they raised the funds needed to fuel their mission.

Last summer the food bank in my area planned a creative way in involve those who benefited from their services and got some great publicity at the same time.  Over 150 children who get nutritious meals at local Kids Cafes wrote an essay about how the program helped them and their family in the Kids Cafe Essay Writing Contest.

Cases of food for Power PacksAnother way that the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank connects with the community is through small groups of volunteers.  The food bank periodically delivers cases of food supplies to area community centers and churches.  Then volunteers prepare the sacks of food that will be given to at-risk children to take home over the weekend.

When I’ve participated it’s been a fun, social time for those involved. Inevitable the conversation naturally turns to the children in need of the food and how much of a help the PowerPack program is.  In around 30 minutes we have all the packs done and a sense of accomplishment that we helped in some way.

Through a role playing simulation residents of Ames, IA got a better understanding of what it would be like to live in poverty. The program was planned with the help of Bethesda Community Food Pantry and Iowa State University Extension.  The simulation gave participants an identity to assume for the night, either as a child living in poverty, someone newly unemployed, a disabled person or a senior citizen.

Do you know of any great fundraising, food drive or publicity efforts on behalf of food banks?  Post a link in the comments below.

Posted on 15 May 2009

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