Many schools run school-wide food drives around the Thanksgiving and December holidays.
Others run them during January, to coincide with the “Souper” Bowl service project. Or in March, as part of the National PTO’s SchoolsServe National School Food Drive.
If your school is planning a food drive for the weeks ahead -- or anytime -- here are some fun ideas you might use.
Stuff the Turkey. If your school’s food drive is held in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, you might theme that effort around a Thanksgiving turkey. Wrap a big barrel in brown craft paper to form the body of a turkey. Put the barrel near a wall and tape a large turkey head and big paper feathers to the wall. Invite students to “stuff the turkey” full of food for your local food bank.
Promote the Food Drive. Besides the usual flyers, you might have local grocery stores provide brown paper bags for students to decorate. In the weeks leading up to the drive, baggers can stuff shopper’s purchases into bags that promote your food drive with free advertising. Another greener way to promote the drive is to create food drive mobiles. Recycle an old grocery bag into a hanging advertisement for the drive; hang from that bag drawings that represent the types of food most needed by your local food bank or soup kitchen. See simple instructions for creating this mobile on Crayola’s Web site at this link: Food Bank Mobile.
Track Your Class. Students might use this November Coloring Calendar to track the number of food items brought in each day. At the end of the drive, have young students answer questions about the number of items contributed on different days and have older students add up the numbers to learn their total contribution. In addition, you might print out the calendar on a sheet of transparency film. Place the transparency on an overhead projector so you can project and trace the image onto a large sheet of craft paper or a bulletin board. This large calendar will serve as a spot where the school-wide contribution totals can be posted and tallied.
Make a Living Graph. When the drive comes to an end, use chalk to draw a large graph grid on an asphalt-covered playground surface. Students can create a bar graph to show the number of contributions (the y axis) brought in each day (the x axis) of the drive. Older students (or the student who contributed the most items from each class) might stand at the x and y coordinates to create a graph that shows school-wide totals day by day. Use a colorful rope to connect the students to create a living line graph. Have someone take pictures or video of the event from a second-floor window or the school roof. Better yet, for some great PR invite a local news photographer or TV station team to report the event.
Food Drive Word Problems. At the end of the drive, use the data collected during the food drive to create a page of math word problems. Create a different set of problems for each grade level, based on the math skills those students have learned in class. Students won’t even realize they are doing math as they solve these real-world problems. See examples of word problems for different grade levels in this Education World lesson plan: Graphing the Annual Food Drive.
Feeding a Community
Scott Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois, plans a food drive each fall (“Thanks and Giving”) and another in the spring (“Children Helping Children”). Click the link above to learn more about this school’s community service efforts.
Successful Canned Food Drive Ideas
This message board on the AtoZ Teacher Stuff site is full of great ideas for educators, from educators.
Service Learning Projects
The Pro Teacher site presents this message board with teacher-contributed ideas that can help students make a difference in their communities.