Yesterday was a food bank day at CAN, and I had the unique pleasure of spending my morning in the warehouse, pacing to keep my extremities warm between filling food boxes. The dried and canned goods were mine. A can of tomato soup per person, per box, a can of pineapple, noodles, rice, beans. Most of what I was packing was purchased by CAN. The produce and breads, the cheese and milk had been donated or gleaned from a local store.
Even gleaned items come at a cost (the cost of maintaining a food truck for example), and when local and federal governments tighten their belts and grant money is scarce, food banks have to be creative about filling the boxes for community members.
Virtual food drives have been popping up lately, as a way to support general and specific hunger related causes online. Some food banks have set up a template of their own that anyone can use. If a person or company wants to host a holiday or memorial drive, they have only to make a few clicks to customize it, and then post the link wherever they like. They range from the elaborate to the simple. The North Texas Food Bank'll provide you with lounge music and a grocery cart to fill on your virtual tour of the supermarket. Fill your cart with oranges and yogurt, juices and bread till you've reached the amount you'd like to donate. The less animated San Diego Food Bank will tally up your donations for you, if you'd like to buy them a case of peanut butter or sliced peaches. Feeding America keeps it simple. Every dollar donated, they say, is eight meals, and you can donate in increments of 25 dollars.