Thursday, August 16, 2018

Food Pantry- Part 3

Forming a 501-C, Non-Profit status: The cost was roughly $500. The #1 key is you need 5 people to be on your board of directors. I used myself, my husband, 1 friend and 2 neighbors that were willing to help me.

Fundraising: I was talking to my sister-in-law this past weekend and we talked a lot about the food pantry. One thing I pointed out to her was- wording is key!!! When I started I used to e-mail companies and simply ask if they wanted to donate items to the food pantry. I got 1, ONE, donation. When I changed the wording products started flying in!!!! What did I change?

Instead of asking to donate TO the food pantry, I changed it to, "I run a non-profit ...... and I am planning our yearly fundraiser event. We are planning on ...... Would you be interested in donating any items?"

Companies are really nice and love to donate to fundraiser events! Obviously some, okay a lot, say no. Some ask for reciepts for a tax right off. Some need a Tax ID #, which is part of forming a 501-C.

The easiest way I've found to fund raise is to hold an event! I did an outdoor event at a local park. The name of the event was the "Hope Food Pantry Fundraiser", simple enough, doesn't have to be wordy. Companies will ask you for the event title, so you will need one. The fee to rent the park was like $35 or was it $50, I can't remember. Once I had the park booked I posted on Facebook that I was looking for vendors. Research your area to see what the going rate for vendor booths it. Here, it is usually $50, depending on the event. So, I only asked $30. I got 11 people that wanted booths. So, after my park fee I was at roughly $300. All I had to do was have each vendor will out an application, mark out/ map out where each vendor would be in the park. That's it. Pretty easy if you ask me!

I had products donated that I raffled off from companies and local businesses/ restaurants. I also had a donation jar out at our booth.

Friday, July 20, 2018

How to start a Food Bank! Part 2

Part 2!

Another #1 question I get asked, which I usually don't divulge, "Where do get all your donations from?" I'm not going to spell it out and say- these companies donate to me, contact them! But, here is some insights I've found over the past 1 1/2 years:

The computer/ internet is your #1 key.
You will spend a LOT of time on Google, Amazon, Facebook and Etsy.
Pinterest keeps me organized!
 -I have a private Food Pantry board with sub categories like: restaurants to contact, companies to  contact, ideas for items to search for on Amazon/ Etsy, and a lot more!
 -I have a public Pinterest board for the food pantry that I share what local businesses support us, recipe ideas for our most popular donated food items. Like, we get a LOT of donuts, so I shared recipe ideas to use with donuts. We once got several heads of cabbage each week for a month, so I shared my favorite recipe that used cabbage.
I do all my advertising to get people to come pick up from me on Facebook.

How do I contact companies?
Say I want to try to collect cans of Tuna.
I Google search companies that sell Tuna. OR I search for Tuna on Amazon.
I then contact them via their website, their e-mail address or their Facebook page and ask for donations.
-That's it! That's how I get all my stuff!

Okay, okay, here's a little secret I've found.
A) Broaden your horizon! Meaning, don't just focus on food, unless that's all you really want to do. I do: A Toy Drive year round, Back to School Bags, New Mom Kits, Birthday in a Bag, and Blessing Bags for the homeless.

B) Contact companies who ONLY sell on Amazon. Did you know that if they have an item returned to them they legally can not re-sell it, even if it is in perfect condition if someone says there is something wrong with it? Well, what do they do with all those items? DONATE! I have 1 company that literally sends me every item that is returned to them! 90% of the time the items are just fine, people are just picky.  The other 10% of the time the items seem pretty fixable! I have received several chalkboard that are "broken" and they simply just need the edges screwed together where the company sells them just glued and it falls apart!

Use resources you have! Several years ago I ran a company that sold vinyl decals and lettering. Thus, I have the ability to cut out vinyl and a heat press machine to make shirts! It dawned on me recently that I can use this with the food pantry. I could make shirts for our volunteers to wear with our logo on them. I contact shirt companies to get blank shirts and vinyl companies to get the heat press vinyl to use for the logos.

I don't just get items to hand out! I have also gotten supplies I need for the food pantry donated! I needed a bag sealer to package bakery items I go. I contacted easily 8 to 10 companies and 1 said yes! They simply asked that once I got it I left them a review on their Google page! Done!

Reach out in your community!
90% of the food on our shelves come from people in our town donating them to me!
I also received a free refrigerator! Now, it was old and barely working, but they posted it for free on Facebook and I reached out to them and told them how I needed one for the food pantry I can. Not only did they give it to me, they delivered it as well. Then... my husband unplugged it while it was full of food and didn't tell me for 2 days (we are remodeling the food pantry so we had to move it out of the way). Needless to say I'm back in the market for a new fridge! :(

Reach out to other charities/ food banks!
I currently have an overstock of tuna! My husband and I took several cases to the state run food bank in our town. I recently met a lady who's husband is the pick up driver for a churches food bank. She told me that they usually have a surplus of bread that he can drop off to me!

How to start a Food Bank! Part 1

One of my neighbors has mentioned to me several times that I should teach a class on how to start up/ run a food pantry/ food bank. Not to brag, but I'm pretty amazing at it! I only started 1 1/2 years ago and my garage is currently overflowing with free products I have received! Now, don't think I'm doing this all for me to get free stuff. 99% of the items I receive go to families in need, my family does get items. Hey, there has to be some perks to essentially working for free. Anyways, when my neighbor said that I thought, NO WAY! Why? Because we live in a small town and if I teach people in my small town how to do it they will "steal" donations from me. If you live in a big city like Las Vegas you could easily have 10 of my food banks, if not more. However in a town of 32,00 1 is enough.

I would LOVE to share my insights though!

I do 99% of my work online e-mailing companies. The other 1% is going to local businesses, but like I said I am in a small town. In big cities I think you can relay a LOT more on local donations. You have so many more options!!! We have 3, yes THREE, grocery stores that all have already committed to donating to the state run food bank. I currently have 3 places that donate to me, 2 maybes and 1 farmers market. I am actually DYING to expand and start up my food pantries in at least 2 other cities!

So, everyone asks me, How/ Why I got started?
At the time my family was struggling financially. We made enough to make ends meet, but also living paycheck to paycheck. It seemed like every job my husband had gifted him with a 2 week layoff at Christmas time. Meaning 2 weeks of no income and 2 weeks to try to catch up on later. It was January and I was visiting a friend in Vegas. When I got to her house she walked in the door with a laundry basket full of food. She told me how a friend of hers contacted local stores and received items they would normally just throw away for FREE. I was floored! I looked at her food and thought, "Oh my gosh, if they had this where I lived it would help my family so much!" Since it didn't exist in my little town I figured, what the heck I'll start one! I started with 1 little space on my shelves for food. I mostly just pulled food from my own pantry to get us going! I remember my turning point. I had been toying around with the idea for a while, but just couldn't take the plunge. My husband had a slow week at work and bills were tight. I had $30 to feed my family of 4 for 1 week. I was freaking out. I decided I'm starting this thing! My printer was out of ink so I couldn't even print my business letters. I asked a friend if I could come use her printer. She was one of my best supporters. I am NOT a people person at all. In fact I had her talk to the first 5 places we asked for donations and she got 1 of them to come on board with us!

Since then I have learned to open up and asking for donations has become a lot more natural and a lot less nerve wracking!

I am now up to 3 bakeries donating to me and 1 farmers market. 1 restaurant is supposed to start donating next week! I also have 1 more bakery that might start soon as well. Why so many bakeries you ask? Because they are perfect for having extra food items that don't keep for days! Think about it, you have to make x amount of cupcakes or donuts for the day, but you don't sell them all. The next day no one wants day old baked goods. Sometimes you can sell them for 1/2 off the next day, but what about when you are closed for the weekend? DONATION! The same goes for our weekly farmers market. Farmers bring in fresh fruits and veggies once a week. Whatever they don't sell isn't going to last a whole nother week! DONATION! Ever donation makes me excited!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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