Tag Archives: printable

Food Drive Kit: Tips, printables, and everything you need to host a successful food drive

Hosting a non-perishable food drive to benefit a local food pantry is fun and easy, and this post will help make your food drive MORE SUCCESSFUL and even EASIER!

So, you want to host a food drive…

  1. Who: Decide which sphere(s) of your life you will concentrate on for collecting the food.. Make sure that leadership and group policies (if there are any) are ok with your event before you begin.
    – Church
    -Civic Group/Club
  2. What: Choose a local food bank or shelter as the beneficiary of your food drive. Donors like to know where their contribution is going; it gives them confidence in their donation. It also helps spread the word about a great local organization. You never know, but the information on your flyer might come in handy some time if a friend/coworker finds themself in need.

    Call up the organization you’ll be collecting for, and ask them what their biggest needs are. The free printables I’ve attached to this post list the food shelf basics, but asking will give you the real picture of your food shelf’s situation and what you and your donors can best contribute. The printables can easily be altered with a Sharpie when you’re filling out the other information.

  3. When/Where: Decide if you’ll be doing your food drive collection-style or pickup-style.
    – If you’re setting up a collection box, like at a workplace, give people a week or so to contribute.
    – If you’re doing pickup on a specific day, give people at least a week’s notice and remind them every few days as the day approaches.

    – Avoid hosting your food drive on a holiday week; people’s minds are busy with their vacation plans, arranging childcare, etc.
    – If you’re hosting your food drive in your workplace, pick a week after you get paid, not the week before.

  4. How: Spread the word!
    – Use social media groups/pages to reach people – posts with more pictures, reactions, and shares are seen by more people on Facebook. The printables in this post include a .jpeg you can use on social media.
    -Send out an email blast – give everyone a last-minute reminder on pickup day or the day before the collection drive ends so they don’t miss out.
    – Hand up posters – The printables at the bottom of the page include an 8 1/2 x 11 printable poster advertising your food drive. All you have to do is print it off, Sharpie in your details, and hang it where it will be seen. There is also a flyer printable that prints 2 flyers/sheet. You can put those in work mailboxes (not postal service mailboxes, that’s illegal unless you actually address, stamp, and mail them), neighborhood newspaper boxes or doors, hand them out cubicle to cubicle or at a meeting, insert them in the church bulletins, etc. There is a box label printable also. If you’re doing your drive collection box-style, make sure the box is sturdy (canned goods get heavy fast!), clearly labeled, and put in an obvious, visible place. It’s good to have all your flyers, posters, social media images, and box label match, so people can easily connect things in their memory.

Good luck with your food drive! Come back and leave a comment if you have more tips or suggestions from your experience!


.jpeg for social media posts (to use: copy/paste or right click and save to your computer)





flyerEvent poster (to use: copy/paste into Microsoft Word or Publisher. Adjust size and print)

Handouts (to use: copy/paste into Microsoft Word or Publisher. Adjust size and print)

Donation Box Label (to use: copy/paste into Microsoft Word or Publisher. Resize and print)


Sell your crap

I found this quote on Pinterest, and it led me to Adam Baker’s website, Man vs. Debt, and his popular Ted Talk. What appeals to me about Baker’s quote, site, and Ted Talk is the absolute freedom of that mindset. Getting rid of debt and excess stuff allows you to be flexible, nimble, and agile. It just sounds so empowering.

I’m not a “stuff” person, meaning that I don’t have strong emotional attachments to things, and that’s weird for an historian. Most of my colleagues hold on to stuff, because physical objects are tangible pieces of our history. Items tell stories, and they connect us to the past. So it’s weird for an historian to be so anti-stuff. I blame my family’s regular moves when I was growing up; the more possessions you have the harder it is to move. Not that I live a spartan life, either. The longer I’ve lived in one place (15 years yesterday!), the more stuff has accumulated in the nooks and crannies of my life. And not just precious memorabilia, either. I have an abundance of papers, craft supplies I no longer use, and don’t even get me started on the wide variety of sizes and seasons of clothing I have stashed!

My lack of attachment to stuff, and the fact that my clothes seem to reproduce while I’m asleep leads to regular purging. My mom, sister and I have an annual garage sale, and unsold items get donated right away. But we follow the donation dropoff with an afternoon of shopping, so the cycle continues.

But I long for that freedom. I want to get to the point where my thesis no longer hangs over my head. I want to own my money instead of owing it. I want to consider possibilities and not have to say, “maybe someday.”

If you feel like I do, I challenge you to make a step in the direction of freedom. Toss some dead-weight junk, like papers and old, worn clothes. Sell some excess stuff that has value to someone else. Finish that project that’s hanging over your life (preaching to myself on that one…). Stop shopping for stuff you can live without (again, preaching to myself), and make progress on your debts. Get free. Reclaim your life. Do what you love.

I have a printable “clutter cutter challenge” for you to help you get started. And be sure to check out the Man vs. Debt website for great articles on successfully selling your stuff!

Clutter Cutter

Family Service Project: Food Shelf Scavenger Hunt

Food Shelf Scavenger HuntMy favorite co-server in life is my son, J (his real name is Jacob, but I call him J because he doesn’t like “Jake.” Yes, I am so lazy that I reduced his name to one letter). He’s fifteen years old, and is smart, funny, and a good worker. Though much of his service experience has come during his years as a Boy Scout, he really got his start in our local MOMS Club chapter when he was just a preschooler. We started ‘em young in that group; the kids participated in a lot of tours, supply drives, and service projects. An amazing thing happens when you bring your young kids to service opportunities; they never have to learn to serve. It just comes naturally because it has always been their reality.

Yesterday, J and I volunteered with Compassion International finding sponsors for kids

But serving alongside a fifteen-year-old is a lot easier than working with a preschooler was! When the kids are young, they need simpler tasks, patient parents, and a lot of information on WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. With that in mind, I have created a Food Drive Scavenger Hunt that you can use to teach your kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews about helping the hungry. It’s in a printable form right on this page, and I invite you to print and share as much as you like.

The printable lists five of the top needed food shelf staples, gives information about why they matter nutritionally, and educates on specifics to look for, like low sodium and whole-grains. I believe the whole scavenger hunt can be done for under $10 (depending on the choices you allow). Several kids can work together, or each kid can do his or her own list – that’s up to you and your budget. The scavenger hunt could work for kids as young as three if you do the reading, but would be informative and entertaining for kids as old as 12. It teaches best practices while still allowing kids to make choices. You can use the scavenger hunt to distract and entertain the kids during your regular grocery shopping, or you can make a special trip that ends with drop off at the food shelf.

I strongly encourage you to find ways that your young kids can serve their community. I know it can be a challenge for parents, but it’s a lot easier to introduce service when they’re young and want to help than it is when they’re older and would rather watch TV!

What ways have you found to include your children in community service? Share in the comments, and keep an eye out for more family-friendly service opportunities in the future!

Kids food drive scavenger hunt


Kids food drive scavenger hunt


Preview image is a .jpeg; follow the hyperlink above for the .pdf version to print. Feel free to share!

Service Project: Birthday Bags

Birthday Bags

A million years ago (give or take a few… It’s been a jam-packed week and my stay-at-home mom days feel REALLY far away), my son and I were part of a terrific group called MOMS Club. We had playgroups, field trips, park days, holiday parties, fundraisers, and service projects. Finding this group was a godsend for me and for J. Now, in middle school, he is still close friends with some of the MOMS Club kids.

I loved our service projects. We sponsored a room at a local women’s shelter, providing it with bedding, window coverings, and an occasional fresh coat of paint. We collected school supplies for a different school in our community each fall. We adopted a family in need during the holidays. One mom was a leader of her daughters’ scout troop, and she headed up a service project she had learned about from the troop’s work with the food shelf.

The staff at our local food shelf explained the heart rending situation that they see all the time; families barely scraping by cannot afford to do anything special for their kids’ birthdays. As a parent, this broke my heart. Can you imagine staring at the calendar hoping you’ll have enough just to feed your kid on his birthday and wishing desperately that you had a way to make the day special? There is something we can do. A glimmer of hope and caring in a seriously sad situation. Birthday Bags – gift bags filled with the basic items that make up a birthday celebration.

We had a lot of fun with this project. We bought plain, solid colored gift bags at the dollar store and let our kids decorate them with crayons and stickers. They were very festive! We designated some to be for boys, some for girls, and some gender neutral. Not having any little girls in my life (I now have nieces – I didn’t then), I ate up the chance to pick out princess plates and pink napkins. We delivered about a dozen of these bags to the local food bank, and they gave us a tour of their facility. That was eye opening for us and our kids. A lot of the tidbits you see on this blog are things I learned on that tour!

So here’s the list of what to put into a Birthday Bag. I made a printable checklist, too. Feel free to print, post, and share the printable (.jpg and .pdf on the bottom of the page):

  1. A bag: Buy birthday themed gift bags at the dollar store, use paper grocery bags, or do what we did and get the kids participating in the project by decorating solid colored paper bags.
  2. A cake mix: If you watch the sales, you can usually get cake mixes for $1.00-$1.50 each.
  3. Frosting: Get frostings that go with the cakes you bought, and remember that certain flavors are more kid-friendly than others. German chocolate, for example, is delicious with all the coconut and nuts, but it’s not really a kid flavor. We stuck with the basics, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and white cake with white or confetti frosting.
  4. Candles: Dollar Tree to the rescue! When we last did this project, the dollar store was selling boxes of birthday candles at three boxes for $1.00. That’s 33 cents a box, and they were all varieties of rainbow colors.
  5. Paper plates and napkins: Back to the dollar store! It really made this project affordable for us. They have a ton of cute birthday plates and decorations that will only set you back $1.00 per item, and they have some really fun designs.
  6. A décor item (optional): A package of streamers that match the plates, a “Happy Birthday” banner, or some other fun décor item makes it feel like a celebration. Have fun with this, and choose something to make the day special! One word of caution: Latex balloons are probably not a great idea. Lots of people are sensitive/allergic to latex, and they pose a choking hazard for young kids and pets. If you send balloons, include that info on the note attached to the bag so it goes to a family that can use them.
  7. A blank birthday card: Hallmark has a line of basic cards that start at 99 cents. Sometimes the drug store chains or grocery stores offer a coupon for an additional amount off the purchase of a couple cards. Last time I used that deal I got three 99 cent cards and they gave me a dollar off, so three cards for $2.00. The dollar store might have some good deals, too. Don’t write on the card; just include the blank card and its envelope in the birthday bag. Mom and Dad can write on it and they can have credit for throwing the birthday celebration. The kids don’t need to know that their parents had help from the food bank and its donors to make this happen. If you want to include your well wishes, the bag is a good place for a quick, anonymous note like, “Happy Birthday! Hope you have an awesome day!”
  8. A gift item: This is the point where you really decide how much you want to spend on this project. Some groups send along a $5-10 gift card to a mass retailer like Target or Wal-Mart. Some send books. Others send along a toy or two from the dollar store. This is really up to the budget you set for the project. We did dollar store party favors in our bags – another celebration item instead of a gift. Next time I think I’ll send books or coloring books and crayons, and some gift cards for older kids.

Clip a note to the outside of your bag that indicates if the package is for a boy, girl, or either, as well as what age its best suited for. Include the info about balloons if you’re including them, and what the gift item is. Make it simple for the food shelf staff and volunteers to grab a birthday bag that will be most useful and meaningful for the family. I made a printable for this as well (link on the bottom of the page); they print four to a page. When you’re ready to deliver your bags, call ahead (or take them along with your next food donation drop off). You want to stop by to make your drop off when it’s most convenient for the food shelf staff and volunteers.

Birthday bags are a popular service project for families and groups, so there are a TON of ideas and tips on Pinterest. Click HERE to go to Food Shelf Friday’s Pinterest page where I have a board for birthday bag ideas as well as a bunch of inspiration, links to FSF blog posts, and ideas for additional service projects. If you have other ideas or tips from your experience building Birthday Bags, add them in the comments.

Birthday Bag Checklist

Birthday Bag Checklist (link to .pdf – the image above is .jpg)

Brithday Bag Attachment Printable

Meal Ministry: How to BLESS not STRESS

Meal Ministry

Food doesn’t just meet our physical need for energy and nutrients; it’s also a source of comfort. That’s why there is something so powerful and community-building about meal ministry. When someone is ill, has a new baby, or experiences a loss, friends who show up to nurture and comfort the family with wholesome and delicious meals go a long way toward reducing stress. On the flip side, a friend who shows up unexpectedly with mystery foods the family can’t eat and who expects her dishes to be washed and returned right away actually increase stress! Keeping your friend’s needs in mind and having a humble attitude of service will steer you clear of most blunders. Here are a few simple things to avoid.

  1. Don’t Go At It Alone: Chances are if a friend is in a situation where meals would be a blessing, you’re not the only one who is bringing in food. Find out if a friend, family member, or someone at church is coordinating the meal ministry and get in contact with that person to sign up for a day when food is needed, get the info on any food preferences or allergies, get the address and directions, etc. That way your friend can relax and recover without the phone ringing off the hook, and she doesn’t have to worry about duplicate meals, giving directions, or getting conflicting information from different sources.
  2. Know Your Audience: When you get in touch with the person coordinating meals, or if you are the one doing the coordinating, find out what the family’s food preferences and food allergies are. If someone is vegetarian, gluten intolerant, or allergic to something, you need to provide a meal that won’t increase the suffering! Likewise, be sensitive to the issues created by the condition that drove the meal ministry. A new mom trying to nurse can’t eat a lot of garlic or gas-inducing veggies like broccoli. Someone dealing with stomach problems won’t be able to eat spicy or acidic things. If you know what your friend is dealing with, a quick internet search will give you advice on foods to avoid for her condition. Also, know what time your friend serves dinner. A family used to eating at 5:00 will not be very relaxed trying to placate fussy kids until dinner shows up at 8:00. You eat dinner whenever you like, but meal ministry is about blessing someone else, not about putting them on your schedule.
  3. No Surprises: I love sneaking extra veggies into my son’s food, and my own for that matter. Tiny cubes of squash soften beautifully in chili and no one knows the difference. It’s the only way I can get my husband or son to eat the stuff. But a meal ministry meal is not the place for sneaky veggies, mystery ingredients, and family secret recipes. Provide the recipe with each item you bring, and stick to what you put on the card. Your friend and her family will know exactly what they’re getting, and they can make it again another day. Obviously they’re going to love it and want the recipe anyway, right? I still make homemade chicken potpie from the recipe a friend brought for dinner when our son was born fourteen years ago.
  4. Keep It Simple: Elaborate dishes don’t travel well, and when you’re not feeling well, you just want the familiar and comfortable anyway. I had a friend thoughtfully bring me a casserole once that was a new recipe she was trying on us for the first time. Unfortunately she thought the word “clove” meant the entire head of garlic. I couldn’t eat garlic, so I couldn’t have any, and my house stunk for a week. Stick to things you know you make well. Someone coming home from hospitalization won’t care that it’s simple; she is just going to be thrilled to eat something that isn’t hospital food… Save your tricky, fancy dishes for when your friend is feeling better, then have her over for a celebration dinner! Likewise, while disposable bakeware isn’t the best for the environment, it is the best for ministry meals. Your friend can wash and reuse it herself or she can toss it. It’s a lot less work than scrubbing all the pans and keeping track of who to return them to. Remember that your goal is to help your friend relax and recover, not to give her more chores!
  5. If All Else Fails: Pizza delivery and restaurant gift cards are perfectly valid ways to bless a friend in need. This is especially true if you live too far away to deliver a homemade meal, when your schedule doesn’t match up to the meal delivery rotation, or in situations where a family member is hospitalized for a while. When my nephew was born prematurely and 300 miles away, I used Google Maps to find out what restaurants were near the hospital where he spent his first weeks. My sister and her husband were back and forth between home and the hospital, spending as much time as possible with their tiny baby, not eating at home. The gift cards we sent helped keep their costs down during that crazy and expensive time, and I felt good because it allowed me to bless them when I couldn’t be there in person.

Here is one of my favorite meal ministry recipes.  It’s vegetarian, mild, forgiving, easy, and generally pleases even kids and picky eaters.

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells:

12 jumbo pasta shells, boiled until tender
1 16 oz. package cottage cheese, drain off some of the liquid
½ cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Garlic salt to taste

Combine the egg, salt, and cheeses in a large bowl and fill each softened shell with the mixture. Arrange shells in a baking dish and pour a jar of pasta sauce over them. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

That’s it!  Super simple, warm, and comforting.  The recipe serves 4, and can easily be doubled for larger families. I deliver it (in a disposable aluminum pan, of course) with some bread, a fruit or veggie, and a treat like cookies for dessert.

At the bottom of this post is a free printable – some cute Meal Ministry labels and matching recipe cards. Feel free to print and share (they’ll work best on medium weight white cardstock).  I pinned a bunch of blog posts and recipes about Meal Ministry to the Food Shelf Friday Pinterest account.  Click HERE for those links, including more printable labels.

Above all an attitude of service and sensitivity are the keys to successfully blessing others with meal ministry. Now go out there and be a blessing! Remember if you have other ideas to add to this topic, or a great meal ministry recipe, share it in the comments!

printables for meal ministryprintables for meal ministry