How To Run a Food Drive

New London Police Union running a food drive

Why Hold a Food Drive?

Increasingly, the face of hunger in Connecticut is someone we know. But you can help ease the pain of hunger by running a food drive in your company, organization or school. A food drive is an easy and rewarding project for any business or group to undertake and everyone can participate.


Your first task at hand is to select the date. It may occur over several days or weeks. Keep in mind that food is always needed by the emergency programs served through the Food Center, not only during the holiday season. Consider running a food drive during the summer or late winter when food donations are typically slow but demand remains high.

Notify the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center at 860.444.8050 to let them know about your drive. The staff will be able to assist you in your planning. They can provide an up-to-date listing of the most-needed food items. You should also inform the Food Center of when your drive will be concluding so they know when to expect the delivery.

Publicize your food drive at least two weeks in advance. Signs and fliers should list the date(s) of the drive, where the food will go, what foods are needed, and where the collection boxes are located. Post signs in well-traveled areas of your building(s). Lobbies, cafeterias, mailrooms and coffee areas are good locations. Notices can also be placed in employee mailboxes and via email to all staff. If you receive public traffic from the community-at-large, invite them to participate in the drive, too. United Way has posters available to help you promote your drive.

When the drive concludes, don't forget to thank people for donating and let them know how much food was collected. You can report not only the total amount in pounds, but what the equivalent in how many meals that food will provide to local families facing hunger. We are happy to provide you with those details and numbers.

Whether your food drive is an in-house event or one in which the public will participate, collection sites should be convenient and highly visible. Lobbies, cafeterias, and other well-traveled locations are excellent spots to collect the food. Use boxes, not bags or barrels, to collect the food. Bags create too much breakage and barrels are too difficult to transport.

Download this flyer to promote your drive.


Click to download flyer


Ask people to donate canned and dry goods, that are not in glass containers, in the following categories: peanut butter and jelly, pasta and pasta sauce, cereal, mac and cheese, canned vegetables, soup, juice, rice, beans (canned or dry), and shelf-stable, quick-cook microwaveable meals in bowls, cups, or bags.

Quick-cook, microwaveable meals include: Hormel Compleats microwave trays, noodle bowls, quick-cook rice and noodles, mac and cheese bowls and cups, instant oatmeal, soup bowls, ramen noodle bowls, and breakfast cups.

Be sure to ask United Way staff if there are additional food items that are critically needed at the time of your drive. Supplies may be lower in a particular category.

Limit your drive to collecting 4-5 specific items to help make it even easier for people to know what to donate.

Whether or not you can deliver the food yourself, call the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center at 860.444.8050.

If you are able to deliver the collection, please bring it directly to the Food Center located at 374 Broad Street in New London. Food Center hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

If you need your collection picked up, staff would be happy to make the arrangements.

Many thanks to the following funders for their grant support of the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center:

Bodenwein Foundation, Centreville Bank, Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, Chelsea Groton Bank, Citizen's Bank, City of New London Community Development Block Grant, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Dime Bank, Dominion, EFSP – CARES, Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Eversource, Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Jewett City Savings Bank, Ledyard Rotary Foundation, Liberty Bank, MDA-UAW Local 571, Mystic Rotary, New London Telephone Employees' CSF, Niantic Rotary, Pfizer Inc. ShopRite, and Swindells Charitable Foundation.