Why food drives are a terrible idea

I was at Loblaws in Toronto today—the massive Loblaws in the former Maple Leaf Gardens which has a red dot commemorating centre ice in aisle 25—and saw the biggest food bank food drop-off bin I’d ever seen it my life. The bin was there so people could throw food bank food, presumably food bank food they’d just purchased at full retail price, into it. They’d certainly have to throw it in because the walls of the bin were so high, you couldn’t see over them. It’s the size of two Hummers stacked on top of each other and would probably fit a family of four in another part of the world. I imagine a forklift truck will eventually have to be called in order to get the bin out of the store, which then will have to be put on a big truck to be taken to a food bank. Then the cans of vegetables, tuna and soup, the peanut butter, and the occasional package of diapers will be distributed to people who can’t afford to buy food themselves, most often because their rents are so high.

How is all this food bank food working for poor people? Are they getting what they need?

Matthew Yglesias, author of The Rent is Too Damn High says no in his column for Slate today, Can the cans—why food drives are a terrible idea. It’s a quick read, if you have a minute and it makes a lot of sense to me.


Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam PhotographyGail Picco is a strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, and is Chair of the Board of the Regent Park Film Festival. She also writes about baseball and F1 racing.

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