This article explains how to organize a combined food and magazine drive for your local food pantry to feed hungry bodies and minds. This is especially important as summer approaches, when the need for food and learning increases, because children are out of school, and pantry shelves go empty. Read on and volunteer today.
There are many parallels between hunger relief and literacy – feeding both the body and the mind is vital for life and productivity. Whether a child in school or an adult in a job training program, the body needs to be fed for the mind to have the energy needed to focus and learn.
The roots of MagazineLiteracy.org are planted firmly in decades of hunger relief work that I have organized with hundreds of volunteers in many communities across the U.S., including food drives at supermarkets for local food pantries. I began organizing food drives in 1986. In 1994 I launched a toll-free national hunger hotline to connect hungry people, volunteers, and food to their local food pantries. That same year, I conceived the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project because I knew that families hungry for food were starving for reading materials at home.
Food drives are easy and fun. Even one person or a small group can spend a day at the entrance of a supermarket asking each shopper to purchase something extra for a hungry family, handing out a “shopping list” of priority items, resulting in thousands of pounds of food donations. I’ve seen it happen many times.
Food banks, food pantries, backpack feeding programs, Meals on Wheels, and other nutrition programs are a natural way to get reading materials into homes, along with food. MagHarvest is a special supermarket drive that combines food and magazine collection. Shoppers are greeted at the supermarket entrance with a smile and “shopping list” that suggests needed food and magazines. The food and magazines are delivered to a nearby food pantry for distribution to hungry families. In addition to putting food on the table, MagHarvest shares our own favorite magazines and gets these special reading materials into homes that have few.
Volunteer to organize a MagHarvest drive in your community, so you can help to change the world of a child or a family – one meal and one magazine at a time. It can be done in four easy steps. Begin today and have fun!
- Locate a food pantry to receive the food and magazines.
- Ask a supermarket for permission – most will say “yes!”
- Organize a small team – two volunteers working two-hour shifts at the store entrance – enough to cover a day or weekend.
- Print up a “shopping list” flyer – four lists per page – cut and handed to each shopper with eye contact and a smile. Be sure to include food staples and “magazines for all ages” on your list:
- Magazines for all ages
- Baby Food and Formula
- Canned Vegetables and Fruit
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
- Hot and Cold Cereal
- Powdered Milk
- Healthy Juices
- Pastas and sauce
- Chili and Soup
- Beans and Rice
- Packaged Tuna and Salmon
- Canned meat
- Cooking Oil