Why Food Drives Are a Terrible Idea

All across America, charitable organizations and the food industry have set up mechanisms through which emergency food providers can get their hands on surplus food for a nominal handling charge. Katherina Rosqueta, executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that food providers can get what they need for “pennies on the dollar.”…

A lot of waste also occurs on the other side of the food-donation equation. Rosqueta observes that a surprisingly large proportion of food—as much as 50 percent—provided to needy families in basic boxes winds up going uneaten. When you go to the grocery store, after all, you don’t come home with a random assortment of stuff. You buy food that you like, that you know how to prepare, and that your family is willing to eat.

– Why Food Drives Are a Terrible Idea

Let’s talk about this.

If you’ve ever received food from a food bank or similar nonprofit group: what did you think of the selection of products? Was there anything you never used? If anyone in your household had/has a special diet (e.g. they had diabetes or food allergies, ate Kosher, were vegetarian/vegan, etc.) was the nonprofit group able to accomodate that?

If you’ve ever participated in a food drive: What was that experience like? Did you follow up to see if the group you donated to needed more help after the holidays? Have you ever been asked to give money instead?

0 Responses to Why Food Drives Are a Terrible Idea

  1. stood in a govt surplus food line 1 time in Wyo. I felt poor and desperate … it was awkward for me and i never went again …  i’m sure we ate everything as we had very little in those days … 

  2. I stood in that line the next month, and I too never returned.

    When I give canned foods it feels clumsy to me. heavy to carry, etc.  I love giving cash.  It’s a gift that includes dignity for the receiver, as they can then go buy what they need, like the rest of us.  After reading this article, I am totally convinced cash is better.  I never thought of the economies of scale that apply to the actual cost of the gift.