Words by Kokayi Nosakhere and Maia Butler
When I first choose to step forward twenty three years ago and began learning how to organize the community to resolve the problems within its own borders, I crashed into a wall. That wall was my own ignorance on how thought and action flow through a human system. I thought social ills were the result of laziness or the lack of access to resources. It took me several years to accept social ills are not the result of the lack of initiative. Most persons enduring a social ill are extremely energetic and applying any wisdom which crosses their path to change their condition.
Those of us who are not suffering the social ill ask what we can do to help. Those suffering the social ill, who are applying wisdom, think there is something wrong with those asking’s inability to perceive how they can help. If someone is hungry, feed them. If they are cold, warm them up. If they are house-less, find them housing. If they stink, get them to a shower.
Isn’t this what leadership does? Generate plans to solve problems? The answer is: yes.
It also helps to give people guides to use.
Since the holiday season is upon us and American society inspires us to be charitable, below is a step-by-step guide towards an “out of the box”-thinking food drive. Because we live in the 21st century, please engage me and let me know how this plan works out. I can change it at will and yes, I want to conduct such a drive here in the Rogue Valley.
One Mean Food Drive – Foodraising a Casserole
Objective: Inspire individuals to conduct local ONE MEAL-based food drives in their area.
Materials Needed: Only a few ingredients make this casserole. Items that must be donated:
even spaghetti will work
or even canned chicken will work
Campbells or generic
cream of x, y, z
Those four types of ingredients make tuna (or chicken) casserole. A sample recipe is found at the link below. The canned soup options above will also have a recipe on the soup can label.
Know that no one item on the recipe list is hard and fast; various types of pastas, soups, or veggies can be combined to make the same basic casserole. Bundles can be easily made out of the four types of ingredients and distributed to families.
1.Do Your Research: While a Food Drive is a relatively simple endeavor, it is still work. Before beginning, make sure you count the cost in time, money and other intangible resources, like the social capital you possess among your personal network.
- Gain the commitment of your peers and co-workers to participate in the drive.
- Identify the specific food pantry and/or food bank targeted to benefit from the drive. If you don’t have a favorite cause that can benefit from your Casserole Drive, your local food bank is there to help get this meal is distributed to the right places! Establish a contact with a person at the food pantry or food bank with whom to coordinate your activities. Most likely, with this contact they can provide barrels for collection and may even be able to pick-up the peanut butter you collect! They should also be able to help you with data to share about the relevant hunger facts for your specific area. For example: How many children are in the Title I schools and could potentially benefit from the Food Drive?
- Do you have a place to store the food items and a way to ultimately transport what is collected to the food pantry or food bank?
- Have you selected a date for the drive? We suggest you select a date(s) for the food drive that corresponds with a pay day.
- Do you have a method of accepting cash donations in lieu of actual peanut butter? (We suggest you use all cash donations to purchase the items for the casserole, thus adding to your one meal count. You might consider giving the person a receipt of some sort acknowledging their contribution and inform them of the number of items purchased with their donation. This builds trust for future drives.)
2.Gaining and Keeping Personal Commitments. Food Drives of any kind do not happen automatically with the circulation of a single email. This is a project no different than any other project you engage in. It requires announcing your intention to conduct a food drive via email, a phone tree, internet-based video or communication tool of some kind. Clearly, make the ASK! People will have to get back in contact with you and express their desire to participate. The more creative your appeal, the more excited those who choose to participate will be.
3.Conduct the Drive. Once everything is in place the actual Casserole Drive is easy; you simply execute the plan. It is a delicate balancing act of a) contacting those who made their commitments, b) collecting the actual jars of items and c) transporting them to their final destination on the shelves of a local pantry or food bank. If you can market the names and amounts collected, the thank you will have greater impact.
4.Tell Your Story. Just as you announced your Casserole or One Meal Drive and organized the commitments with an imaginative appeal, we strongly suggest you highlight those individuals and teams that made commendable, or outstanding, contributions towards making the Casserole or One Meal Drive a success.