A couple of days ago this article came out in Slate. com
The article talks about how it is not only better to give money than food to charities who provide food, but that giving food may actually hurt, rather than help a charity.
A nationwide network of food banks called Feeding America gingerly notes on its website that “a hastily organized local food drive can actually put more strain on your local food bank than you imagine.” Food dropped off by well-meaning citizens needs to be carefully inspected and sorted. A personal check, by contrast, can be used to order what’s needed without placing extra burdens on the staff.
The article goes on to talk about how donated food often goes to waste because it is such a hodge podge of items that doesn’t always fit the needs of clients–i.e. high sodium soups for people with high blood pressure.
Since our church has invested a lot of time, energy and money as of late working to collect food for our local Salavation Army, I went to the source today and asked Lieutenant Jason Seabolt in Baring Cross if we need to stop with the food and just send money. His answer was no, please keep sending food as well as monetary donations. He agreed that it does take some people power to deal with donations, and that he can get food more cheaply in some cases. However, he said in order to get the better prices he has to take the time to fill out paperwork and often spend time and gas money to go and pick it up from another location. So, it is nice to have food delivered to his doorstep. And every donated food item means a bit more of those cash donations can go to meet other needs.
So the article has a point, although it may be more accurate in large cities where a food drive could bring in far more than a staff could handle. But for us, we can keep on collecting food and giving it to the folks who know how to get it into the hands of hungry people. And we can also keep writing those checks.