America is one of the most charitable nations in the world, so it makes sense that we're constantly coming up with inventive ways of raising money for certain causes. It seems that there's a GoFundMe or IndieGoGo or KickStarter for everything nowadays, but before the boon of internet giving, there were other fundraising methodologies.
We're talking bake sales, raffles, huge thermometers outside of fire departments that were colored in with red until the goal was reached, and of course, the all-powerful food drive.
You know the deal, a huge cardboard box located outside of the Principal's office or near the elevator that you fill with food you don't want anymore or picked up for cheap at the grocery store.
The problem is, however, is you're better off just donating that $1 instead of spending it yourself.
The practice is being done with the best of intentions, however, there are Food Banks out there who can 100%, without a doubt spend that money better than you. National Post reported that Food Banks can stretch the value of a dollar to four, sometimes five times the normal amount due to the sheer volume of food they're buying. Which makes sense, it's only their entire job to find the best deals and work with the homeless and needy to find the foods they want.
Canned drives are filled with problems, like people who donate strange or exotic food few people want.
What ends up happening is that these foods aren't distributed and end up sitting on a shelf in a storage facility somewhere in the event that someone does pick it up from the food bank. It takes up space, and time to put away.
Which brings up another problem with food drives: the collection, shipping, and sorting process.
Arranging trucks to pick up all of the huge cardboard boxes filled with random goods that are oftentimes expired, overvalued (compared to what the food drive could've gotten), collectively heavy, and don't follow any sort of logical pattern. Cranberry sauce next to mac and cheese next to vienna sausages. These all need to be sorted at a facility and then in many cases, re-delivered to hungry families.
Adam Ruins Everything covered this same phenomenon last year and why it needs to be done away with.
People have known about the terrible inefficiencies of food drives for a long time, so why do Food Banks put up with them and people keep donating to them?
A lot of it has to do with trust. People want to make sure that their money is being used for food and they're not being scammed.
Even big-named charity organizations like the American Red Cross has been found guilty of huge donation scams (just ask Haiti), so people are wary of giving away their cash. Also, it's kind of hard to just tell someone how they should donate. Imagine rolling up to someone who just gave you a few cans of soup and corn and you tell them, "Hey, next time, can you just give us the $4 instead?"
It's hard to imagine that'll go over well.
So it's best that you research and find a trusted Food Bank and just donate cash, it's their job to spend it as efficiently as possible.
But if you're still going to donate canned food this Christmas, then banks say that the most in-demand and nutritious items that get people the most bang for their buck are peanut butter and canned fish. Just stay away from octopus and other weird stuff, and you'll be all right. (h/t national post)