The Franklin Food Pantry’s Food Elves Make Biggest Impact Yet to Fight Hunger

Source: Franklin Food Elves Change It Up!, Franklin Food Pantry, .

Source: Franklin Food Elves Change It Up!, Franklin Food Pantry, .

Leila Frankina

Food Insecurity & Hunger in America

As COVID-19 cases continue to grow each day, so do the lines for food pantries across America. According to NPR, nearly 1 in 4 households have experienced food insecurity this year, which can be described as the lack of constant access to sufficient amounts of food needed to live a healthy life. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 10.5% of all American households (13.7 million) experienced food insecurity at some point in 2019. The image below displays the 4 main levels of food security and describes how households are affected at each level.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Food insecurity can be caused by many different underlying factors such as poverty and unemployment. The inability to get access to food may also have negative impacts on households including health and financial implications. Although this issue has been challenging for many over the years, food organizations such as The Franklin Food Pantry have found effective ways to provide food to those in need. 

All about the Franklin Food Elves

To help fight the critical issues of food insecurity and hunger in the community, The Franklin Food Pantry has been running a holiday campaign for 15 years called the Franklin Food Elves “12 Days of Donating”. The campaign goes from December 1st through December 12th. Local middle and high school students collect monetary donations from the community through online pages and the Franklin Food Pantry’s signature purple envelopes. These monetary contributions help The Franklin Food Pantry provide food for over 1,400 members in and around the Franklin area. With 621 households, 197 seniors, 823 adults, and 410 children to serve, monetary donations are extremely helpful for The Pantry to buy the resources necessary to support these people, especially during the holiday season. 

For the Food Elves, 2020 in particular presented unique obstacles and challenges in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The main obstacle the Food Elves program faced this year was not being able to gather all in person. They typically get an in-person tour of the Pantry and are able to do large mapping nights to receive their street assignments.” says Laura Often, Franklin Food Pantry Communications Manager. Although it was difficult to coordinate and organize without meeting in person, The Pantry found creative ways around this problem. By filming and posting a Pantry video on the elf toolkit, the elves were able to do a lot on their own. The district parents were also a big part of the operation, meeting with their own groups of elves virtually and assigning neighborhood routes for purple envelope drop off and pick up. Materials were either picked up by the elves or dropped off by the district parents to ensure everyone had all the resources they needed. 

Although this year was especially challenging, it was also very special and successful. This holiday season, over 120 elves participated and 5 parents volunteered to serve as district parents. At the end of the campaign, the elves raised an impressive total of over $75,000 for the Food Pantry, the highest amount they have ever raised. “Because of the pandemic, more people than ever need the Pantry for food and more people are aware of the need for a food pantry right here in Franklin,” Laura explained. “It is so wonderful to know that we have such a strong, caring community. We also love to see students getting involved in the program – we also had several alumni come back to participate. Once a food elf, always a food elf!”

Source: Franklin Food Elves Change It Up!, Franklin Food Pantry, .

How to become an Elf

Want to make a difference and help the community next holiday season? Sign up to be an elf in 2021! Registration will open around July and close around the end of November. Elves are able to participate by handing out purple envelopes around neighborhoods, constructing an online donation page, or both. All elves also receive community service hours for participating. The more elves the better! Head to to sign up and learn more about this amazing program and how you can help diminish the problems of hunger and food insecurity in our society.