After noticing a flurry of articles on this subject, we thought it was time to offer some insight on how the “cash vs. cans” issue relates specifically to us.
1. We’re short on space.
If you’ve never visited our facility, we invite you to schedule a tour. We’re located in a 2,000 square foot building on Herndon Street, right off Martin Luther King Drive in San Marcos. This space houses our warehouse and all eight of our staff members, as well as the volunteers, interns, and board members who may be with us on any given day. This means that we’re limited on the amount of food we can store at any one time. Once the shelves are full, we have to palletize the overflow, which takes up even more space.
2. Our needs change constantly.
Sometimes we’re low on canned fruit. Sometimes we’re low on canned carrots or cereal or macaroni and cheese. Because our specific needs often vary from week to week, the beauty of financial donations is that they allow us to buy precise quantities of what we need when we need it.
3. The time factor.
When we receive the results of a food drive, all of the items have to be weighed, sorted, and checked for quality before being shelved in our small warehouse. With large donations, this can be a very laborious and time-consuming task. By contrast, when we receive a monetary donation, we note it in our records and store it in the bank.
4. Food donations can interfere with our regularly scheduled duties.
We rescue food from the San Marcos, Kyle, and Buda H-E-B stores at 8:00 every morning. Because the food we receive from H-E-B also has to be processed (weighed, sorted, checked for quality) and then prepared for distribution very quickly (sometimes as early as 10:30 in the morning), simultaneously receiving a large donation of nonperishable food often puts a strain on staff members and volunteers.
5. Food drives have a price tag.
Believe it or not, food drives actually cost food banks money. The North Texas Food Bank estimates that a food drive can cost as much as $100 after the prices of fuel, vehicle maintenance, materials like boxes, and staff time are factored in.