Holiday food drives stem from the right charitable impulse, but unfortunately, they’re extremely inefficient. The sad fact is that up to half the donated food in a traditional drive doesn’t get used because the items are things recipients “can't use or don't know how to use,” write John Arnold and Katherina Rosqueta in the Los Angeles Times. In short, “that $10 gift may end up providing only $5 worth of actual hunger relief”—and it’s practically impossible for the donor to use it as a tax deduction, to boot.
The solution: Donate money instead of food. Charities can take that money to a food bank, where food is far cheaper: “A $10 donation ends up leveraging as much as $200 worth of food.” Then recipients can choose what food they want, so they won’t end up with anything unusable—and donors can deduct the gifts from their taxes. “The bottom line is that for the same amount of money spent on buying cans for a food drive, donors can feed 20 times more families by providing cash, not cans,” Arnold and Rosqueta note. Click through for the full article. (Read more food drive stories.)