Sponsor a Family Night:

Ask business owners to feature special “Family Nights” in which admission is restricted to families or interested individuals, and admission is ” a dollar or a few cans of food” (per person or per family, with all the proceeds going to the pantry). Location ideas include skating rinks, bowling alleys, and miniature golf courses. High school band and choir concerts, garden club flower shows, sporting events, church choir concerts, and youth musicals, could charge a can or two of food as admission, with the food going to the pantry.

A Gift Substitute:

Suggest that co-workers forego exchanging holiday gifts in favor of sending the saved money to a food pantry.


Sign up people as “members” of the pantry effort. In exchange for a $10.00-$15.00 donation, the member is given a credit card size I.D. that identifies him/her as a person who cares enough about the needy to give of themselves to help someone; also, the pantry might send these members a newsletter or two per year. Ask a print shop to donate the printing of the cards, so the money collected is all available for pantry support. One hundred memberships at $10.00 each is $1,000! People can be approached about “renewing” their membership year after year.

Church Canned Good Drop Boxes:

Have churches in the community place boxes, barrels, or baskets inside the church door for people to drop off cans of food. There are many variations on the theme: collect food every week with the pastor periodically reminding people of the need; collect food only one Sunday of each month; collect only during one month of the year trying to meet all of the pantry’s food needs; have people bring in specific items needed by pantries, have the ushers carry the food into the sanctuary to be placed along with the collection plates to be consecrated. This truly puts the food in its proper perspective.

Lenten Fast Offering:

Ask church-goers who fast a meal a week or a day a week during the Lenten season to bring in the money saved as a special offering for the pantry.

Office Snack Money:

Approach business employees about foregoing coffee break treats for a week or more and donating that saved money to a food pantry.

Meeting Refreshments:

Suggest that businesses or social organizations not serve refreshments at their meetings so that a donation can be made at the pantry. With the permission of the restaurant they meet at, even noontime civic organizations could forego lunch some week at which someone from the pantry makes a presentation; they could donate the saved money to the pantry instead of having lunch that day.

Un-baked Good Sale:

Coordinate scout troops or other youth organizations to offer an Un-baked Good Sale. After hearing a lecture on hunger in the community, and a possible tour of the pantry, the group may go out to a shopping center or anywhere a baked good sale might be held, and set up tables with plates, napkins, cake pans, cookie jars, etc., just like a baked good sale. Instead of having food to sell, the cookie jars and plates have slips of paper that say something like, I bought this plate so that hungry people in Kent County might eat. Price: 1-25¢, 2-50¢, 5-$1.00. All proceeds given to the Food Pantry.”


Organize high school church groups to fast one weekend at their church, studying hunger issues and praying. Before the fast, each student asks for pledges for each hour fasted. Afterwards, the money is collected and donated to the pantry. A 30-Hour Planned Famine Organizing Kit is available from World Vision at www.30hourfamine.org or Catholic Relief Services Food Fast at 1-800-222-0025.

Church Farm Market:

Ask members who have gardens to plant extra and then bring the surplus produce to church on Sunday or at a midweek service. Produce should be put on a table in the fellowship hall; after the service, members may “purchase” the produce by a freewill donation which goes to the pantry. This type of program gives families who are able the incentive to have gardens and gives needy members of the congregation (as well as families who by virtue of age, health, or living circumstance can’t have gardens) access to low-cost, fresh produce. It also provides support for the pantry, because all donations and left-over food goes to the pantry! One possible variation of this program is for the church itself to have a garden – youth groups and senior groups could possibly garden together.

Grocery List Bulletin Insert:

Insert a “grocery list” in the church bulletin. List specific items needed by the pantry. Leave blank lines on the page for the shopper to fill in items he/she needs for personal use. At the bottom, explain that the listed items are needed for the pantry.

Reverse Offering:

Instead of putting something in the offering plate, the members of the congregation take a slip out of the plate. Each slip of paper lists specific non-food item(s) that the pantry needs. During the next week, each person should purchase the item(s) that are listed on the slip and bring them to the church to complete the “reverse” offering.

Brown Bag Answer to Poverty:

Find a grocer who will donate bags. Print several hundred labels with a list of items necessary for a balanced diet for a family of four. Such a list needs to include at least: four 16 oz cans of vegetables, four 16 oz cans of meat (tuna/chili), four 16 oz cans of fruit, four 16 oz cans of soup, one pkg. of pasta, one pkg. of dry beans, one pkg. of cereal, one pkg. of crackers, one pkg. of powdered milk, one jar of peanut butter, and one family size bar of bath soap. Enlist the church youth to paste the labels on bags and to distribute them to church members or neighborhood homes in order to be filled and returned to the church.

Other Ideas?

Do you have other great ideas that have worked in your congregation to help food pantries raise support? If so, please let the Access office know so we can pass them along to others. THANKS!