Food drive start-up kit

Thank you for taking on the task of hosting a food drive! It’s the efforts of groups and individuals like you who keep our pantry full—helping us to help Cougs in need.

The need

Clark County is home to over 440,000 residents. More than 52,000 of whom live below the poverty line and are food insecure, meaning they do not have regular access to food. At WSU Vancouver, 82% of students receive need-based financial aid to pay for school. Many are working their way through college and are balancing the demands of work, school and family. The Cougar Food Pantry helps bridge the gap between meals for students in need.

Our mission

It can be hard for students to make ends meet when paying for school and living on a tight budget. The Cougar Food Pantry provides free, nonperishable items to WSU Vancouver students in need of food. The process to request food is simple, anonymous, and students are encouraged to take advantage of it. To date, the Cougar Food Pantry has fulfilled 572 requests for food.

The numbers

  • In Washington state, 14.3% of households have food-insecurity: difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources.—Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 2013 data
  • In Clark County, 12% of residents live below the poverty line.
  • At WSU Vancouver, 82% of students receive need-based financial aid.

Tips for getting started

  1. Let us know that you plan on hosting a food drive! We will send you a guide that includes the information on this page, shopping list templates and a donation form. We can also answer any questions you have and offer advice on planning your food drive. Contact us at or 360-546-9779.
  2. Select specific dates for your food drive. Determine a length for your drive in which collection would be most effective in order to maximize participation. Make collection easy and convenient so there’s less of a barrier to donate.
  3. Set a goal! Aim to collect a certain number of canned food items or specific amount of monetary donations. Create a committee to organize marketing efforts, donation pickup and delivery.
  4. Ask your local grocery store if they’ll donate bags for food collection. Many are willing to help, and it’s free promotion for them!
  5. Keep track of donations! Keep people motivated by updating them on the status of the food drive and encourage them to chip in. Collect all donations in a publicly visible location so everyone can see what a huge impact they are making.
  6. Distribute the Cougar Food Pantry Shopping List (PDF) so that participants will know which items are most needed.
  7. Get the word out! Pass out posters and flyers. Send memos. Post on social media. Go door-to-work at work. Ask team leaders to help announce your food drive. Post to community boards in grocery stores around the area. Get people excited!

Fundraising ideas

  • Encourage friendly competition between departments or groups. See who can collect the most—give an incentive to the winning team.
  • Challenge individuals or groups to fill a container. Then, see how many they can fill.
  • Collect items at a sporting event. Hold entertainment benefits (concerts, plays, picnics, movie showings). Come up with a theme and fun name that ties in to the cause (aka: Hunger Games for the Cougar Food Pantry).
  • Create a large graph or visual piggybank and color it in with the amount raised/collected as you go.
  • Invite friends or local businesses to participate, match your donation or your group’s donation total.
  • Sponsor a ‘thank you’ event. Give out awards for most donations by team, most beans collected, etc.

Shopping list / most needed items

Priority items

We seek to provide non-perishable healthful foods for students experiencing food shortages. Our preferred items include:

  • beans (canned or dry)
  • boxed milk (dairy, soy, almond)
  • canned fruits and vegetables
  • canned meals (soups, stew, chili)
  • canned meat
  • canned tuna
  • healthy cereals
  • instant potatoes
  • macaroni and cheese
  • pasta and sauce
  • peanut butter
  • rice

Restricted items

For food safety reasons, we cannot accept expired foods, rusty or unlabeled cans, baby food, perishable items, homemade items, open or used items.

For questions concerning donations, contact us at or 360-546-9779.

Donation drop off

After your event, deliver your donated items to WSU Vancouver’s Cougar Center located at:

WSU Vancouver
Attn: Cougar Food Pantry
Student Services Center
14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98686

Drop-offs are accepted at any time during the Cougar Center's regular hours.