Chances are good that you have participated in a food drive or donated food to a local pantry. Fewer of us have coordinated a food drive. For those of you who have been a food drive coordinator, you may have wished for some help in planning, promotion, and other resources to make your life easier. Today’s organization, Schools Serve, was just launched in August 2010 to offer assistance to food drive coordinators in schools around the country!
According to Feeding America’s comprehensive 2010 study, more than 37 million Americans sought emergency food assistance in the past year and many from local pantries. School food drives are the largest contributor to local food pantries.
At Schools Serve, the mission is to End Childhood Hunger in America by uniting America’s schools and school families around the cause. Schools Serve focuses on three distinct goals:
- To encourage and assist schools across the country to run food drives that help ease the hunger crisis in their community
- To educated students on the hunger crisis, its causes and solutions, and:
- To instill in students a life-long respect for service and a desire to serve their communities
Schools Serve is a national organization based in Wrentham, Massachusetts (about 30 minutes outside Boston). The organization began when founding partner School Family Media’s (SFM) founder, Tim Sullivan, wanted to find a way to acknowledge the 10 year anniversary of SFM.
Mary Richman, Director of Operations for Schools Serve told us, “Hunger is such a huge issue and schools are so well positioned to play an integral role as part of the solution. Out of this, Schools Serve, a national non-profit, was conceived and developed to support and encourage school hunger efforts and to unite the individual projects around the country into a national movement that we know will be a key force in ending hunger.”
Schools Serve offers many free resources and tools for running food drives and educating school communities on hunger. Every coordinator or “Driver” that takes part in the National School Food Drive this year can receive a Drivers Toolkit full of promotional materials, collection box labels, bookmarks for students, and a Step-by-Step Planning Guide for Food Drive Success. In addition, the website offers additional planning resources, letters to parents, information on the benefits of service, flyers for educating the community on hunger and the most needed food items. The website also offers participating schools an area to share tips and resources that they found most helpful. Richman states, “Through our blog and website we’ll share stories of school food drive successes and will promote the great work schools are collectively doing around the country. By taking part in Schools Serve participating schools are not only helping their community but are part of a larger national movement working to end hunger in every community.”
Schools Serve focuses on “Good Giving.” The concept is: Giving is good, Good Giving is better. All food donations are good, but donating the kind of food that pantries need the most is better. Food drives anytime are good, but food drives timed to fill pantry shelves when pantries are most in need are better. All food drives are good, but food drives that combine collecting food with educating and inspiring kids on the value of service are better.
Schools Serve was just launched this August and already has schools in 43 states participating in the hunger movement by running food drives in their community. The organization recently introduced a Student Leadership Council, which is a group of students who have already taken initiative to end hunger in their communities and will continue as ambassadors of Schools Serve to influencing the organization’s work and fostering greater involvement of schools, students and families in local and national hunger efforts.
Richman continues, “Schools Serve will address hunger right at that local level, connecting active and engaged school parents and students with pantries right in their communities.” In its first year, the goal for Schools Serve and its National School Food Drive Campaign is 5 million pounds of food donated from schools to their local communities.
So, how can you help? You can work with your local school to utilize the School’s Serve toolkit and online resources for their food drive. Since you have such great resources available, you could even volunteer to be a food drive coordinator at a local school!
Schools Serve is supported by a coalition of leading education, hunger and service learning organizations – all with a shared passion for activating our schools, inspiring our schools’ students and creating change. Namely– ConAgra Foods Foundation, Share Our Strength, Youth Services American and School Family Media