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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Examining Holiday Food Drives and Baking a Palestinian Cake

Is it better to donate food to a holiday food drive, or to give money to a local non profit providing food assistance? The answer: it depends.

Through a shared maintenance fee arrangement with food banks, food pantries like Mother Hubbard's Cupboard can obtain more food for less money than individuals purchasing food at retail prices.

Today on our show we talk about holiday giving and food drives with Amanda Nickey of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, a Community Food Resource Center in Bloomington, Indiana.

There’s this deeper level of change that can happen if you take your kids out to the grocery store, and you say, ‘we’re going to spend twenty-five dollars on food for other people. And I want you to think about things that other people might like, and think about things that you like. Because other people are like you.’

This time of year, in communities across the country, schools and businesses will be collecting cans for food drives. It’s an American tradition during the holidays, to balance feast planning and shopping trips with plans to help others, and to share good fortune with those experiencing hard times.

In recent years though, I’ve come across criticism of the food drive approach, as an inefficient method for getting food to people experiencing food insecurity. All those cans need to be checked and sorted. Plus, agencies can obtain more food for less money through the food-banking system, so individuals paying retail for food is a waste of money.

It’s better, the argument goes, to give money directly to trusted organizations.

Amanda Nickey is the President and CEO of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. I sat down with her in our studio this week for her thoughts on holiday food drives.

We talk about the role of intention in food drive participation, and some of the hidden costs of providing emergency food assistance. Nickey also suggests that efficiency isn’t the only thing to consider when making choices about giving.


Also this week, Harvest Public Media brings us a story on wind energy innovation in the face of federal funding cuts, and Chef Daniel Orr shows us how to handle a pomegranate, and shares a Palestinian recipe featuring those sparkling red jewels.

Stories On This Episode

Wind Power Now Needs Industry To Survive

With Federal funding for wind energy waning, industry will need to step in to keep the turbines turning.

Toasted Semolina Cake with Orange Blossom Syrup

The most tedious part of this simple dessert is placing a whole almond on the center of each diamond on the cake.

How to Handle a Pomegranate

Don't let the pomegranate intimidate you. With a few tips, you can master this compelling tasty fruit.

Grocery Lobby Losing Allies

A third large food company has left the Grocery Manufacturers Association as the industry grapples with changing demands from consumers.

WHO Wants To Limit Antibiotics For Livestock

US Regulators are critical of the new WHO regulations, limiting antibiotic use in livestock.

Kayte Young

Kayte Young discovered her passion for growing, cooking, foraging and preserving fresh food when she moved to Bloomington in 2007. With a background in construction, architecture, nutrition education and writing, she brings curiosity and a love of storytelling to a show about all things edible. Kayte raises bees, a small family and a yard full of food in Bloomington’s McDoel Gardens neighborhood.

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