Editor's note: In honor of the third annual Food Driving Box campaign, we have updated and are re-running this story about how Seattle-area families can help local families in need this February.
Valentine’s Day is upon us. If you don’t want to be part of the consumer frenzy and the obligatory gift giving for your loved ones, there is an alternative way of spreading the love this month and beyond.
How did Porter decide to launch the campaign in 2014? “A friend at church gave me the brilliant idea to tie red packaged food to February donations, when food banks are traditionally receiving their lowest donations of the year,” said Porter. “According to Solid Ground, February and September are historically low giving months, due to a bit of holiday giving fatigue. As October, November and December — the highest giving months — pass, donors are focused on other things in the new year.”
Porter encourages people to buy healthy non-perishable food that is packaged in red material, like wrapping, plastic or red boxes.
“We thought it would be a great Valentine’s Day-themed program to encourage people to give the gift of food this February, the season of love,” she said.
I have learned, through working at FamilyWorks, that going through your pantry and donating what you haven’t been using is not necessarily the best way to donate. Often the food has expired (see those cobwebs on top of the cans?) and cans are rusted or dented.
“The Food Driving Box makes food donation part of donors’ lives, which takes it beyond the ‘empty your pantry’ concept,” said Rick Jump, director of the White Center Food Bank.
Porter hopes that the campaign will eventually encourage individuals and families to make food donation a regular part of their giving practices.
Five Easy Ways to Help Drive Away Hunger in the Northwest
- Claim your free Food Driving Box: You can find these at one of Seattle-area food banks. Put it in the trunk of your car, and you are good to go. On each box there is a list of the top items needed by the food banks. These include tuna fish, chili, dry goods such as cereals and pastas, canned vegetables and fruits, and baby formula and baby supplies.
- Donate frequently: Plan to make donations every six to eight weeks to build muscle memory. Try more frequent drop offs if that works for you!
- Create community: Donate as a family and help each other remember that a couple of small donations from each grocery visit can add up and make a big difference for families in our neighborhoods.
- Share the Food Driving Box program: Take two or three boxes to give to friends, family, neighbors, teachers, faith communities and whoever else you know!
- Set up a fun challenge: Create a shared spreadsheet where the amount and frequency of donations can be logged. Every quarter, the family with the most pounds donated wins a free movie or game night with popcorn and other treats!