Category: Resources


Food Pantry Fliers 2014- 2015

We all do different kinds of outreach to let people know about our services, and many campus pantries use fliers. Here is an example of the flier we have used at Oregon State for years. We have done it both as a 1/2 sheet AND as a fridge magnet.


What do you do to get the word out? Send us your fliers, brochures, and other media so we can create an outreach collection on the site!

Originally published by Clare Cady May 5, 2015

Food Bank Newsletter Inspiration

Some of the CUFBA schools write newsletters that come out each month, or quarter, or semester. Newsletters are a great way to:

  • Share information about your work such as clients served, food distributed, volunteer hours, donations received, or other metrics.
  • Recognize your staff and/or volunteers.
  • Provide lists of food items or other supplies you need.
  • Offer other resources (beyond your services) to clients or community members.
  • Communicate updates such as changes in location, procedure, eligibility requirements, etc.
  • List distribution times and/or locations.
  • Help people learn how they can volunteer or donate.
  • Whatever else you can dream up.

Here is a great example of a pantry newsletter from Michigan State University.

Food Bank Newsletter 2014

Originally published by Clare Cady March 10, 2015

Stocking Foods For Startup Part 2: fresh and frozen

Some campuses have the ability to distribute fresh and frozen foods along with non-perishables. Most do not start with this, but as they grow and develop they are able to add fridges and freezers to their inventory. Here are some suggestions for foods that are good to stock when starting to distribute fresh and frozen foods.

Frozen protein: ground beef, ground turkey, chicken drumsticks.

Fresh protein: eggs, tofu

Frozen vegetables: peas and carrots, beans, peas

Fresh vegetables: potatoes, carrots, cabbage (good to start with things that keep a while)

Frozen fruit: blueberries, peaches, strawberries (these can be expensive, but are highly prized)

Fresh fruit: oranges, apples, juices

Frozen meals: pizzas, tv-style dinners, pastas

Fresh dairy/dairy alternatives: margarine, shelf-stable milk (if you can keep it cold it is more popular), almond/soy/rice milk, yogurt (which can also be frozen)

Other items: sauces (pesto, tomato)

Originally published by Clare Cady February 23, 2015

Stocking Foods for Startup

So you got it all lined up – space, personnel, and FUNDING!!!!

Some food pantries rely only on direct donations of food, and others purchase what they distribute either at cost, wholesale, or through a local food bank. A common question when one is poised looking at shelves to fill for that first distribution is “what do we buy? Here is a list of suggestions for those who are stocking non-perishables only.

This is a list of the most commonly used items we know of per food category. We recommend that you track what foods are most popular so you can stock accordingly. Also, many campus pantries have a mission that includes foods that are culturally, religiously, or medically significant for clients. It helps to ask clients to identify these foods the first time they sign in. You can use this list to inform your purchasing in the future.

Canned vegetables: corn, beans, peas, tomatoes (crushed, diced, sauce…all are great)

Canned fruit: peaches, pears, apple sauce

Canned soups: bring in a wide variety. The concentrates are good, but the ones that can just be opened and heated up are more popular. Be sure to get vegetarian options.

Boxed/packaged Meals: macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper and rice-a-roni style meals. We highly recommend avoiding Top Ramen unless requested by your students.

Grains: rice (white and brown), pastas, mashed potato flakes, oats, cereals, corn meal/masa. Have at least one gluten-free option.

Protein: peanut/almond butter, nuts, beans (canned and/or dried), lentils, tuna, canned chicken, spam, shelf-stable tofu. Be sure to have some vegetarian options.

Misc food items: cooking oil, spices, sauces (these are awesome to have, but can be hard to come by or expensive)

Other items: toilet paper, cleaning supplies (same as the misc items – they can be hard to get and/or expensive)


What other items do you think are good starter stock-ups?

Originally published by Clare Cady February 17, 2015

Capacity Building and Volunteers

So many of us rely on the amazing contributions of volunteers to run our campus food pantries. Whether we are volunteer-only, or have some paid staffing hours put to our work, it would be challenging to serve our campuses if people did not donate their time. Here are a few tips for recruiting and retaining amazing volunteers.

1) Engage in co-curricular partnerships. Are there classes being taught on your campus that touch on issues of poverty, hunger, and food insecurity? Reach out to the faculty who teach those courses to see if they could include service at your pantry as part of the curriculum.

2) Use volunteer recruitment as a form of outreach. Some students will not outright take a flier for your pantry in a public space because of the stigma. If you do most of your student outreach as a “we offer this service AND we are looking for volunteers” your outreach audience broadens to include those who don’t need your services but would volunteer. It also creates a safety net for students who want to take your information to use the service…they can do so looking like they are volunteering instead.

3) Do a specific, organized, and thorough volunteer training. If you train your volunteers they will be more effective in their work, and they will also get the message from you that what they are about to do really matters. It also weeds out folks who care less about what you are doing. Create a certificate for your volunteers stating they completed the training, and have them renew it annually so you can teach them about changes and check in with them on how they are doing.

4) Recognition is important. Thank your volunteers in as many ways as you can – verbally, in email communications, through social media, and through other things like volunteer of the month, a pizza party (if you have the money), or taking out ads in the campus paper. Be willing to write them letters of recommendation. It’s not necessary, but it feels really great for them, and for you because it’s fun to say great things about great people.

5) Have boundaries. You do not need to create new volunteer opportunities just because someone wants to volunteer. Be clear with people who come in what you need, and help them to be successful in doing it. If you have a volunteer who is not doing a good job it is OK to give them feedback and try to help them improve. If their presence is problematic it is OK to ask them to leave.

6) Create leadership opportunities for awesome volunteers. Have a “senior volunteer” position that helps to train new folks. Let them take on tasks that are more complex within your distributions. When there are projects that require independent action, ask these folks first if they want to take it on. This is a way of recognizing the expertise and skill of your volunteers, and it helps them to build their leadership skills and resumes.

7) Give them a space. This can be a hard one since so many of us are space-limited. BUT if you have the opportunity to have a desk or a room for volunteers it sends the message that they are important. This can be a permanent space, or something temporary during distributions. Booking a classroom for your distributions? Book the space next door so that volunteers can put their things down away from everyone, and they can step out and breathe for a moment without clients looking at them. This also allows you to have private space to talk with your volunteers as well.

8) Get a VISTA. If you have the ability to bring in an AmeriCorps VISTA to work with your program it can be an amazing capacity-building strategy. The cost can vary $7-12k, which is not insignificant. However for this you have a person who is volunteering with your pantry 40 hours per week for a year. I have seen VISTAs develop volunteer programs, write grants, manage pantry distributions, run fund raiser events, and many other things that can really boost the capacity of your pantry. Check out Campus Compact in your state to see if this is a good option for you.

Originally published by Clare Cady February 10, 2015

Working with Your Food Donors

Running a campus pantry means soliciting donations – lots, and lots, and lots of donations. Here are a few tips on how to best manage intake on the things folks want to give you.

Take everything: even if someone donates something to you that you cannot use, take it. Why? Because when you take a donation and you say “thank you,” the person who donates is more likely to give again in the future. Can’t use what they gave? Pass it along to another agency who can use it, or recycle it. It is very rare that someone will donate something that is completely unusable. Be the ones donors think of when they want to give.

Create clarity: in order to get the donations you CAN use, create a policy on donations that is made available to the public. It’s a good idea to have this on your website, and to also have it in PDF or Word format so you can email it to folks. Post it by your phone so staff can reference it when someone calls.

Make a wish list: often pantries will be contacted by groups who want to do some food raising for you. Have a list of items that your clients need the most, or what is wanted but hard to get. This can also include equipment like shelves, or refrigerators. Have this information posted publicly, and also be sure you and your staff/volunteers know it off the tops of their heads.

It IS ok to have boundaries: if a donor keeps giving you things that you cannot use (like expired food, or items you can’t give away), it is OK to let them know. Make sure they hear that you are grateful that they are donating, and follow up with a list of things you can use. Many times folks will change it up and give within your guidelines.

Ask: it is appropriate to ask for donations. Write letters, send links to your wishlist out through listservs, make posters, or host drives to collect items you need. The worst thing that will happen is that people will say no, and if you ask you are likely to get more than you were hoping for.

Originally published by Clare Cady January 20, 2015

10 Ways To Fund Your Campus Food Bank

One of the questions we get most often is “where do I get funding for this?” Here are a few ways we have seen that are effective. Please know that not all campuses are alike, and not all campus food banks are either – we realize that not all of these options will work for everyone.

1)      If you have not reached out to your campus’ Foundation or Fund Raising organization, this can be immensely helpful. This facilitates exposure with major donors, can lead to a nonprofit sponsorship to gain access to grants, and could create a direct line for employees to donate to your food bank through payroll deduction.

2)      Empty Bowls is a relatively easy fundraiser to host, and many campuses partner with their art departments  to put it on.

3)      If your school has a Greek system, know that many Greek letter organizations are required to do a certain amount of philanthropy. On some campuses they have gone as far as adopting the campus food bank for an annual event, or as the “pet philanthropy” of a particular house or organization.

4)      Partnerships with local nonprofits can sometimes be beneficial when writing grants or doing events. Pooling “numbers served” within a community can demonstrate efficiency as well as bolsters your work so that grantors might pay greater attention.

5)      While it can seem cliché, a good old fashioned bake sale can raise hundreds of dollars – particularly if you ask for people to donate and then pick from the baked goods…when people set their own prices they often give more.

6)      Connect with the dining areas on your campus. Are there coffee shops that can put out change boxes? Here at OSU we bring in $300+ dollars by having 5 change boxes at our coffee locations on campus.

7)      Use a crowd-funding platform like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Some schools have these set up through their Foundations. HERE is a link to one such platform that funds projects for students.

8)      Look at grants through organizations like FEMA or the United Way. There are often funds in these places for food assistance programs.

9)      Work with your athletics department – have a team sponsor you with a food or fund drive at a game or over a longer period of time.

10)   Does your campus do an annual charitable fund drive? These usually happen around the winter break. If so, see if you can get your food bank listed as a potential charity.


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Originally published by Clare Cady January 6, 2015