Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Virtual Food & Fund Drive?

A Virtual Food & Fund Drive is what we call our online donation platform.  A Virtual Food & Fund Drive is a fast, easy, convenient way to put food on the table for hungry neighbors in our community. It saves the hassle of a trip to the grocery store and lugging heavy cans. It also saves time and resources for the Food Bank, allowing us to skip the sorting and storage of donated food, and directly purchase perishable items like meat, dairy, and fresh fruit and vegetables which are always in high demand.


What is the difference between registering as an individual, starting a team, or joining a team?

  • Register as an individual:  Are you hosting a food drive and/or on your own for your birthday, the holidays etc. and asking friends and family and friends to contribute to your cause?  Registering as an individual is best for you.  Pick this option if you plan on setting up one page and plan for everyone to donate to that page. You will be given the option to name and customize your page and you will be provided a unique URL to send out to your supporters
  • Start a team:  Is your school, company, church or club hosting a food drive?  Starting a team page will make it easy for everyone’s individual fundraising efforts to be united under the same name.  Creating a team page not only creates a master page which you can customize to represent your group, but also automatically creates a personal fundraising page for you so you can see your own efforts as well as the overall efforts of your team.  When people join your team, they will also have an individual page so they can track their own progress toward the team’s fundraising goal as well!  This is excellent for team competitions.
  • Join a team:  This option allows you to join an existing team.

What if I just want to register a food drive?

We always welcome and appreciate physical food drives as well as Virtual Food & Fund Drives.  If you are only interested in collecting food, choose the “Physical Food Drive” button on the registration page and follow the prompts.  This will let us know that you are only collecting food, and will provide us with the opportunity reach out to support your food drive in any way we can.  However, during the registration process, you will be given an option to create a simple fundraising page as well, should you want to give your supporters the option to donate both food and funds. 

 Money vs. Food: Which do you prefer be donated?

Food is always welcome, however, Northern Illinois Food Bank can stretch monetary donations to provide even more food to hungry neighbors than through traditional physical collections of food.


I want to host a physical food drive, but I don’t know where to begin? Help!

Not to worry!  Follow these steps below to get your food drive started:

  1. Register your food drive online
  2. If you need collection boxes you can pick them up from any of our 4 locations
  3. Visit our Food Drive Resources page where you can read our list of most needed items and download our Food and Fund Drive posters
  4. Use the Food Drive page you created with registration to get the word out to family, friends, coworkers or to whomever you want to support your food drive!

I’ve finished my physical food drive, how do I get the food to the Food Bank?

If you think you will need a pick-up, here a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It would be most helpful if you are able to drop off your donation to any of our 4 locations.  Our transportation department is busy picking up bulk donations from our retail and food manufacturing partners, and delivering to our 800 partner food pantries in the 13 counties we serve.  So the more we can alleviate their workload, the more people we are able to feed. 
  2. We can only pick up food drives of 1,000 lbs. or more on Wednesdays.  Our transportation department needs a week’s notice to schedule a pick-up, and usually wants to know about how much food they are picking up in advance.
  3. If you have less than 1,000 lbs., or if you need a pick-up on a day other than a Wednesday, we will help you to coordinate with a local food pantry near you who should be able to make the pick-up directly.
  4. Please contact Andrew Palmer, Peer-to-Peer Development Officer, to schedule a pick-up at least 1 week prior to the end of your food drive at 630-443-6910 x196 or



How do I know if I have 1,000 lbs. of food?

For the ease of palletizing your food donation, we ask that as you collect food, you pack it into smaller boxes even if you are using our Northern Illinois Food Bank branded boxes.  This helps our drivers on pick-up day.  15 x 12 x 10 Office copy paper boxes are preferred and 1,000 lbs. = about 30 office copy paper boxes.   If you are in doubt, feel free to share a photo of your food donation with Andrew Palmer, Peer-to-Peer Development Officer at


I’ve hosted a food drive and want to get more involved!  What else can I do?

We are so glad you want to continue to join us in feeding hungry neighbors.  We would love to have you and/or your group join us for a volunteer shift.  Volunteers are vital to our ability to get the food we collect sorted, packed and transported to our member pantries so they can get it into the hands of our hungry neighbors.  Check our volunteer calendar and sign up for a shift today to see the full impact of your food and monetary donations at work! 


General FAQ’s

What is the mission of Northern Illinois Food Bank?

We’re glad you asked! Please watch this short video to get a deeper understanding of our mission.