Ask, Don't Assume
Imagine you're standing in a grocery store, and you see a donation bin that asks you to buy an item and donate it to a foodbank for someone in need.
You decide you'd like to contribute something to this worthy initiative.
Out of everything in the grocery store, what do you choose to buy and donate?
(Think about a specific item before you continue reading.)
Now consider the insights Tricia Anne Meyer shared recently on her Facebook page:
1. Everyone donates Kraft Mac and Cheese in the box. They can rarely use it because it needs milk and butter which is hard to get from regular food banks.
2. Boxed milk is a treasure, as kids need it for cereal which they also get a lot of.
3. Everyone donates pasta sauce and spaghetti noodles.
4. They cannot eat all the awesome canned veggies and soup unless you put a can opener in too or buy pop tops.
5. Oil is a luxury but needed for Rice a-Roni which they also get a lot of.
6. Spices or salt and pepper would be a real Christmas gift.
7. Tea bags and coffee make them feel like you care.
8. Sugar and flour are treats.
9. They fawn over fresh produce donated by farmers and grocery stores.
10. Seeds are cool in Spring and Summer because growing can be easy for some.
11. They rarely get fresh meat.
12. Tuna and crackers make a good lunch.
13. Hamburger Helper goes nowhere without ground beef.
14. They get lots of peanut butter and jelly but usually not sandwich bread.
15. Butter or margarine is nice too.
16. Eggs are a real commodity.
17. Cake mix and frosting makes it possible to make a child’s birthday cake.
18. Dishwashing detergent is very expensive and is always appreciated.
19. Feminine hygiene products are a luxury and women will cry over that.
20. Everyone loves Stove Top Stuffing.
I've donated food to those donation bins often over the years, but I've never thought about any of this. I usually pick up a few boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese or a few canned goods (sans opener) and put them in the box.
My intentions were always good. But I didn't take the time to think about the execution.
I assumed when I should have asked.
Ms. Meyers didn't assume. She begins her post by stating that she "spoke to people getting food at a food bank" which is how she was able to come up with this insightful list.
It's an important lesson we can apply not only to our food donation efforts but also to anything that involves our customers.
P.S. I don't actually know Ms. Meyer, but I'm glad her post somehow ended up in my newsfeed and I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her terrific insight and photo.