Red Bag FAQs

What's the best way to fill a bag?

First, request a Food For Neighbor's Red Bag HERE. Then, on one of your regular grocery runs, take the bag with you and fill it with the items you want to donate.​ The shopping list is conveniently attached to your bag or you can print a shopping list here.  We recommend separating the items you are buying for Food For Neighbors from your own family's purchases to make it easier for you to value your gift for taxes (see below).


Do I have to buy everything on the list?

No. Please fill the Red Bag with any items listed but you do not need to buy everything on the list. We sort all the collected food and fill ziploc bags with a sampling of the items for the students to quickly and easily grab to take home every weekend.


What food items are most needed?

The first few things the kids always ask for are Cup 'O Noodles, Clif Bars, Beef Jerky sticks and Chocolate Milk.


Is there anything I cannot donate?

If it is sugary (like candy, gum and cookies), home cooked in your kitchen, already opened, expired or not on the Red Bag grocery list, then we cannot accept it.  The tag that is attached to your bag has a complete list of items that we are collecting or you can print the latest list here.  


We also accept toiletries and personal hygiene items for the students.


How does the bag pick up work?

We're glad you asked. Approximately 10 days prior to a collection event we send out a text survey to find out if you'll be available to fill a Red Bag and leave it out for us to pick up. Please respond to that text so we know whether or not to send a driver to your house. If available, then simply leave your filled bag outside next to your front door by 8:30am.  Our drivers will pick up your bag, weigh it, and leave you an empty red bag to fill for the next pick up, two months later.  


If your items don't fit in one red bag, no worries!  Simply put the rest of the items in another grocery bag and we'll be happy to collect the extra bag(s), too.


If the weather is wet, rainy or snowy and your front door area is not covered, then please place your red bag of food into a kitchen trash bag to keep everything dry and protected. Make sure to tape a paper to the bag marked FFN so our drivers know the food is inside.


What if I forget to put my bag outside by my door?

We realize you are a very busy person so we send you handy reminder emails and text messages throughout the week leading up to the collection so you don't forget. You will also get reminders on Facebook if you follow the Food For Neighbors page.


But, if you still forget, no worries! Click HERE for instructions on what to do with your bag.


How does the tax thing work?

To make things easier for yourself for taxes, have the cashier ring up the items separately (or ring them up yourself at self- checkout). This is not a requirement, but having a separate receipt of just Food For Neighbors items should makes things easier for you to value your donation. That is why we recommend placing the items you are buying for Food for Neighbors in the red bag as you are shopping. Checkout should then be a snap!


Keep the receipt in paper form or you can take a picture of it or scan it if you want to keep it digitally.


Will I receive a donation letter from Food For Neighbors?

Yes, each time we pick up a bag of food from you, we will email you a donation letter.


What do I do with the donation letter?

You can fill out the donation letter we send you and attach the grocery store receipt to it. Put this with your tax records for tax time.


What if my Red Bag was not picked up?

Sometimes things happen beyond our control and a bag may get forgotten at your door. If this happens, click HERE for additional details about what you can do with your bag.


What if I can't participate this month?

Simply reply to our text survey the option that you won't be available this month. It really helps us plan efficient driver pick-up routes if we know ahead of time that you won't be leaving a bag. And don't will only be opted out for that month and we'll include you next time.


What if I still have some questions?

We're friendly folks at Food for Neighbors.  We'd be happy to answer your questions or talk to you about volunteer opportunities.  Just contact us here.

DISCLAIMER:  Obviously we are not tax professionals, so nothing on this site is intended to provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your attorney or tax professional regarding your specific tax situation and deductions.


Request a Red Bag

Upcoming Events

The next bag collection will be Saturday, Sept. 12.

Please leave your bag out no later than 8:30am.

 Upcoming Red Bag dates, here.

Add dates to your calendar here.

Need a list of food we collect?

Our program is growing and we need your help.

Making a Difference

For the March 2020 collection, we received over

11,000 pounds of food

from over 900 participating households.

Thank you!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support FFN every time you shop.  Click HERE to get started.

Get Social

Connect with us on Facebook to learn about upcoming projects and volunteer opportunities, and see photos of our FFN volunteers in action.

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Food For Neighbors is located in Herndon, VA, and proudly serves local middle and high school students in Fairfax County and Loudoun County.

© Food For Neighbors®

Food for Neighbors® is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public charity and your donation is tax-deductible under U.S. tax law. To claim a donation as an itemized deduction on your taxes, please keep your email donation receipt that we will send you. Any funds raised in excess of our goal for any particular project will be automatically applied to the other ongoing work of Food for Neighbors®.