Food Drive Frequently Asked Questions


Getting Started:
Tools & Resources for Success:
Wrapping Up/After the Drive:
General Questions:


Getting Started:

Q: How do I start a food drive?
A: We recommend that everyone begin by registering their food drive at  This will give you access to all our available tools and resources to help make your food drive successful.  Upon registering you will immediately be sent some of our food drive materials with an email confirmation and in the mail.  For additional support, please contact our Food Drive Support Team at 773-843-7291 or

Q: How long should my food drive last?
A: Some food drives last for a just a few hours while others span the entire year.  The length of your drive is really dependent on the type of collection event you are planning.  If you have never hosted a food drive before, we recommend you consider hosting a drive for a minimum of two weeks or until you have collected the minimum number of boxes (20 boxes) required to schedule a pick up.  Make sure to plan on receiving items a few days past your publicized deadline.

Q: How do I set a collection goal?
A: We recommend that for every one employee, group member, or individual supporting your food drive that you ask them to donate a minimum of two pounds of food, which would be approximately two non-perishable food items.  So to set a reasonable, achievable goal, you can multiply your number of participants by two.  The Food Depository’s goal is to collect a minimum of one million pounds of food this year.

Q: When is the best time to host my food drive?
A: We need your support all year long!  The majority of our food drive activity occurs during the holiday season (Nov. and Dec.) as part of our One City, One Food Drive campaign.

Q: What are the most needed food items?
A: The Food Depository asks our food drive partners to focus on collecting our most needed items.  All of our most needed items are part of the 18 Core Items we guarantee our member agencies that we will always have available for them.

Q: Do you accept other non-food items?
A: Although we do not encourage our food drive partners to collect non-food items, we will accept the following non-food donations items:
•    Personal hygiene products
•    Diapers
•    Facial tissue
•    Paper towels

Q: Are there any items you will not accept?
A: The Food Depository is not able to accept the following types of food donations:

Additionally, the Food Depository is not able to accept the follow types of non-food items:

Q: Do you prefer financial donations or food donations?
A: Financial donations have a huge impact.  Due to efficiencies of donated food, bulk purchasing and economies of scale, for every $1 the Food Depository receives, we are able to serve 3 meals!

Cash donations support our operations and innovative programs to address the root causes of hunger through advocacy and education.  Monetary donations also allow the Food Depository to purchase bulk food to be repacked by volunteers.  Because we make large, bulk purchases, our cost per pound of food is far lower than that of food bought at retail prices by individuals.

Food donations provide some of the healthiest and highest-quality food the Food Depository receives.  Food donations also provide a link between you, the donor, and people who are hungry.

Both types of donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated. 

A virtual food drive is a great way to host a non-traditional food drive and have a significant impact and get even more people in your network involved in your food drive efforts.

Q: Can dollars be converted into pounds of food?
A: Yes!  For every $1.00 you donate, it is equivalent to approximately 1.25 pounds of food.

Tools & Resources for Success:

Q: What resources are available to help my food drive?
A: Our Food Drive Coordinator Toolkit is a comprehensive guide to help you host a successful food drive.  We would encourage you to start there.  If you have questions or need additional support after reviewing the toolkit, please contact our Food Drive Support Team at 773-843-7291 or

Q: How do I request collection bags, boxes or barrels for my drive?
A: The Food Depository has collection supplies available for use by our food drive partners. For details on ordering additional supplies, please contact our Food Drive Support Team at 773-843-7291 or

Q: Can I use your logo to help promote my food drive?
A: Yes. We just ask that you send us a copy of any materials you create so we may approve use of our logo. We also encourage you to utilize our printable posters to help with the promotion of your drive.

Wrapping Up/After the Drive:

Q: What are the requirements to schedule a pickup?
A: In order to schedule a pickup, you must meet the following minimum requirements:

To request a pickup, please complete our pickup request form at

Q: Where can I drop off my food donations?
A: You are welcome to deliver the food donations directly to the Greater Chicago Food Depository at 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, Chicago, IL 60632 between the hours of 7:30am and 5:30pm Monday through Friday.  If our office is not conveniently located to you, you can also use our Agency Locator to identify one of our member agencies where you can drop off your food donations or visit to see a list of public drop off locations.

Q: What if I need more than one pickup?
A: We ask that you wait until your food drive has ended to schedule a pickup.  If you have enough donations to meet the minimum requirements for a pickup, you can schedule a pickup before your drive is over; however if you have the space and ability to store the donations until the end of your drive, it is easier to coordinate a single pickup.

Q: How do I submit my financial donations?
A: If you collect monetary donations as part of your drive, please mail them along with the Food Drive Donation Tracking Form to Greater Chicago Food Depository, Attn: Food Drives, 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, Chicago, Illinois 60632. Donation Tracking Forms can be found on the Food Drive Resources page at

Q: Will I get a receipt for my donations?
A: Anyone that makes a financial donation will receive a donation acknowledgment letter that can be used for tax purposes.  The Food Drive Coordinator will also receive a donation acknowledgement letter recognizing your pound collection efforts.

General Questions:

Q: Can our organization schedule a time to volunteer at your facility?
A: Volunteers help the Greater Chicago Food Depository make an impact in the community every day. Thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers—who provided more than 90,000 hours of volunteer time last year—the Food Depository is able to feed the hungry in our community more efficiently.  We highly encourage all our food drive partners to take the opportunity to come volunteer with us; it’s a great way to see the impact of your food drive efforts.  Please visit our Volunteer Page for additional details or you can contact our volunteer services department directly at 773-247-3663 or

Q: Can our organization tour your facility?
A: If your organization is interested in visiting the Food Depository's warehouse and training center, tours are available during the last week of the month.  Please call 773-247-3663 to schedule your tour today.

Q: How does the food collected from drives get to the people in need?
A: The Food Depository uses the donations received through our food drive partners to help distribute over 60 million pounds of food each year.  More than 678,000 people each year rely on emergency and supplemental food provided by the Food Depository and its member network of 650 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.  For more information about the impact of your donations, please see our [Food Drive Fact Sheet].

Do you have a question that is not answered here?
Please contact us at 773-843-7291 or