How do Food Banks Survive Slow Donation Periods?


The first few months of the new year always prove to be tough when it comes to gathering donations for non-profits like the Huntington Area Food Bank. So the food bank is thinking outside the box.

In conjunction with the Junior League of Huntington and other organizations the Huntington Area Food Bank is hosting a month long soup and food drive in the Huntington area. The hope is to offset the increased need for donations that become hard to come by just after the holidays. The event kicked off last weekend with a can drive at a local Wal-Mart. The weekend event brought in nearly a thousand pounds of food that the food bank can give to pantries throughout the state and region. Erin Highlander is director of development. She said drives like these are crucial.

“They’re lifelines, to get a thousand pounds of food in a single weekend, especially soup, soup and peanut butter are number 1 and 2 and it usually kind of varies from month-to-month, agencies love them, the folks that go to our pantries love them and so it’s a hot commodity, so we like to have a lot of it on hand and so this is a great way to do that,” Highlander said.

Food can be donated at locations all across the tri-state ranging from grocery stores, churches and hospital, to the Cabell County Courthouse. The Huntington Area Food Bank services an area that covers 12 counties in West Virginia, 4 in Kentucky and one in Ohio.

Highlander said the new management of the Huntington Area Food Bank took over a year ago, November, and after a tough winter last year where donations were slim, they looked for ideas like the month-long drive to create more inventory at a time when it’s tougher for the program.

"The soup drive was actually what came out of learning from last winter, we didn't have a lot of donations and we really needed the help," Highlander said.

“The soup drive was actually what came out of learning from last winter, we didn’t have a lot of donations and we really needed the help and we really needed a way to get in front of people and we all have to go to the grocery store so it really helped to combine those elements,” Highlander said.

Highlander says the holidays, combined with the recent bad weather, tends to increase the need at pantries and soup kitchens. She says facilities like the Huntington City Mission have likely had more visitors in the last week because of temperatures and will need additional food quicker than usual.

The next event in the month long drive is Sunday when Huntington Prep’s basketball team will meet with those donating at the Route 60 Wal-Mart in Huntington.