Food Drives

Is your school hosting a Food Drive this year?

The time of giving is now and always. It’s great to get students involved in community service, and to help children become empathetic citizens by helping those in need to ensure they feel a sense of belonging in their community. 

But what about a sense of belonging in their own school?

We need to consider how school food drives are affecting students’ sense of belonging in their school.

  • Have you considered that the families that you are asking for donations from could be struggling to put food on their own tables, or may be accessing the food bank themselves? Ensure clear communication that making donations is strictly voluntary and not an expectation.
  • Consider how a contest to bring in the most food per /class could ostracize and exclude some students. Offering incentives and prizes for participation (classroom contests) could further “other” (or worsen exclusion of) students who aren’t able to contribute to the classroom effort.
  • Imagine, coming to school hungry and walking by a growing pile of donated food in the school hallway? Hungry students won’t necessarily be recipients of your food drive, as very few people access food banks due to issues related to stigma, dignity, and the practical issues of transportation, operating hours, line-ups, and more.
  • The unfortunate and unpopular reality is that food insecurity isn’t solved by food drives or food charity, as much as our kind hearts wish it was.

What can we do to increase students’ sense of belonging while addressing this issue?

  • Consider instead asking for financial donations for your own school’s student nutrition program so that the student’s and family’s efforts have a direct impact on those in their own school community. Student nutrition programs are built on universalism – meaning everyone can access them, which reduces stigma and feelings of exclusion.
  • For each anonymous donation provided, a snowflake could be placed in the school office window – your school community can create a blizzard.

The reason some people use food banks is because they don’t have enough money for food (which is called household food insecurity). Living with food insecurity means not getting enough food needed for health. Rates of food insecurity are high, and this issue is likely affecting an increasing number of families in our schools. Being aware of how our response could be affecting the most vulnerable students is important. Donating food may meet an immediate need but it does not solve the issue of food insecurity. For more information about effective solutions visit No Money for Food is…Cent$less (