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5 Great Alternatives to Canned Food Drives

5 Great Alternatives to Canned Food Drives

Since most of the food is donated by growers, manufacturers and wholesalers, and since the small percentage of food purchased by food banks is purchased at wholesale prices, monetary contributions or volunteer support help food banks the most. Making a cash donation, volunteering your time, involving your company or employer in matching gifts, raising awareness on social media, and hosting fundraisers are incredible ways to fight hunger.

Food Bank truck driver and food recipient with child

Canned Food Drives Are Less Efficient Than Alternatives

Canned food drives attest to LA County’s widespread engagement and fight against food insecurity. However, there are more effective ways to help end hunger. Because the LA Regional Food Bank can buy groceries at wholesale prices, donating $1 carries a far greater impact than donating a $1-purchase of food. In fact, a one-time donation of just $25 can provide up to 100 meals for those in need. Just $23 per month provides a year’s worth of food to someone in need.

Canned food drives also require the Food Bank to expend more resources. Frequently, donated cans are too old for consumption, grabbed unknowingly from household shelves and given after their expiration dates. Volunteers must sift through cans to expel old food and keep recipients safe. Even if new cans are donated, it takes hours for volunteers to sort and organize food. Additionally, cans are difficult to store and transport. Collecting and moving boxes of donated food requires time and money. Balanced, nutritious meals are especially important for food-insecure families.

Donating Time or Money to the Food Bank Makes a Huge Impact

The Food Bank is highly efficient thanks to the generosity of our community. Donating time through volunteer work, and donating funds, are both critical to our success.

Donating Funds to the Food Bank

Monetary donations allow the Food Bank to pay for the logistics of the operation, including refrigeration, trucking and so on. In some cases, it also allows the Food Bank to purchase healthy groceries for those in need, which is generally less than 5% of the Food Bank inventory since so much food is donated by farmers, growers, wholesalers and distributors. Approximately 96% of Food Bank revenue goes directly to programs that support food-insecure children, adults and seniors in our community.

Your employer may also be able to help the Food Bank fight hunger. Thousands of companies maintain Matching Gift programs that double or even triple employee donations. Ask your employer if they match charitable contributions to maximize the impact of your donation!

Sponsoring Food Bank events and engaging in Cause Marketing campaigns are also great ways for companies to raise money to alleviate hunger. Learn more about the LA Regional Food Bank’s Corporate Sponsorships on our website. Depending on the campaign or event, the Food Bank can sometimes support company recognition through logos and links in our newsletters and social media posts. Companies can also build camaraderie and make a difference by organizing a volunteer event together at the Food Bank, which is a great teambuilding activity. Learn more on our volunteer pages.

There are other ways to give, too, including stocks, cars and planned giving. Through planned giving, you can also include a donation to the Food Bank in your estate plan, joining our FeedingLA Tomorrow Legacy Society. This charitable option represents an enduring investment in the strength and well-being of our community.

Volunteer Mary Connors holding a food box

Donating Time to the Food Bank

Every year, tens of thousands of volunteers also support the Food Bank through unloading, sorting and gleaning food. Both individual and group opportunities are available; groups of 5 or more can request a volunteer day or event. Much of the Food Bank’s product is distributed through a network of 600 partner agencies. These organizations also welcome volunteers, and the Food Bank has a program to provide volunteers if our partners need a little extra help. For at-home options, virtual volunteers can create and send hygiene kits to clients attending food distributions. Los Angeles students or residents looking for more in-depth roles can help manage groups and organize events as Volunteer Ambassadors, developing valuable leadership and administrative skills. 

Fundraisers and Social Media Posts Increase Donations and Spread Awareness of Hunger

Social media mentions help increase traffic to our accounts and educate LA residents about the extent of food insecurity. Posting about hunger helps expose the problem. By promoting LA Food Bank events and volunteer opportunities, you can expand our reach and involve more community members in our cause. On birthdays or holidays, consider directing followers to check out our website and offer small donations: $1 contributions, each providing four meals, quickly add up. By drawing social media attention to the Food Bank, you also remind food-insecure neighbors that there are resources to help. 

Fundraising, whether virtual or in-person, also provides amazing support to the Food Bank. Turn anything you’re passionate about into an event that fights hunger, whether a walk-a-thon, brunch, roast, gaming contest, DJ livestream or special occasion. Incorporate your talents, pastimes and interests to make a difference by selling hand-made crafts or baked goods. Your efforts have a huge impact on families in need. To learn more, visit our Team #WeFeedLA page >


Whether planning events, connecting a company, volunteering time, donating money or involving friends, family and followers, your hard work and kindness help the Food Bank serve hundreds of thousands of people per month. With more than 2 million children, adults and seniors still facing food insecurity, your support is greatly appreciated as we work together to fight hunger in LA County. 

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