Food Sponsors

With build season only a few weeks away, I wanted to start contacting food sponsors to help provide food for a couple of meetings. Some questions I have are:

  • What types of food places do you all get food donated from?
  • How do you go about asking them to provide food?
  • What are some easy sponsors to go after for food?
  • What is the current record for the most pizzas eaten by a single FRC team in one meeting?

All of these are important questions, thanks for reading.

Parents, we ask them to feed their kids and all the rest of the kids present, and parents, in that order.

We ask nicely, with a signup, and food appears.


Whoever you ask, keep in mind that restaurants have very slim margins. We make it a priority to patronize the business we solicit for food donations. We also reserve some restaurants only for specific events. Otherwise, parents are asked to sign up for weekend meals.

Chain restaurants are easier to get but the local places value your partnership and business more.

If they can’t offer donated food, they can sometimes give deep discounts.


Publix usually is pretty good about donating food for small organizations & their events. Their donations are usually smallish - enough to feed 20 or so people.

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We just had out pre-kickoff meeting with parents this morning.
In previuos years, we’ve had a parent bring lunches for the Saturday meetings. In past years our team was <30 members. This year we’ve almost doubled in size. So the lunch duties are divided between two teams of parents.
It has been a boon for the team. Lunches are about 30-45 minutes long. This is is far better than the 1+ hours of allowing members to forage for themselves at local fast-food joints.
Usually, there is more than enough food for the team to enjoy seconds & thirds.

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We have been relying on parents the past few years and will continue to rely on parent’s generosity for the 2020 season. We only ask parents to contribute on Saturdays, though.

I’m primarily looking for possible sponsors to contribute once during the season for a week night meeting. Maybe bring in a surprise pizza party on a Tuesday night? Donuts for the CAD team on a random Friday? Just something that I can bring in to make the season just a bit funner for the students (without going broke in the process).

Look into places that make stuff fresh every day. Noah’s Bagels usually has a trashbag or two of day-old bagels they donate to 4201, and I’d imagine stopping by a donut shop/bakery anytime after 6:00 PM would yield good results.

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Last year we provided a lunch meeting for our main sponsor who provides our build space and a few other visitors. We introduced the robot and the capabilities. Between the company employee’s and our team members we had over 90 people.

For this “lunch and learn” we approached several local establishments. We had nacho chips, salsa and cheese, chicken tenders, Asian noodles, pizza all donated. We did end up providing additional pizza’s, some veggie trays and drinks

All said, we received about $400 in donated food. It was well worth calling on these establishments and we truly appreciated there sponsorship. All of these establishments were listed as sponsors on our banner, recognized on social media and provided year end thank you correspondence.

We rely on parents for Kickoff and full build day lunches. Sometimes we have snacks during the evening builds.

A team could spend their entire budget feeding their members for the entire season.

In 2012 the local Panera sponsored my team, and every other Saturday we would pick up a TON of day-old bread for the meeting. Like, a multiple-garbage-bags-full ton. Don’t know if they still do that for teams though.

Also ~2009-2012, the local Jimbos would donate a couple pies every year for the Math & Science Club’s Pi Day event.

I agree that parents are the easiest resource though. My old team had access to the Culinary Arts room, and an amazing team mom who would cook Saturday lunches for the team (usually prep them at home and do the final heating-up in the school ovens). I believe the team reimbursed her for a significant amount of the cost of ingredients, but it was much cheaper (and healthier) than bringing in takeout all the time. On my current team we haven’t yet been blessed with that kind of parent, so parents take turns signing up to bring in meals.

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Often, when looking for donations, it’s “who you know”.

What restaurants do you frequently eat at? That’s where you probably ought to start.

Chipotle is usually willing to do the “donate x% of profits on this date” type of fundraisers, and we’re planning on asking them to make some food donations this year.

We usually get food from parents. We’ve tried both “opt-in” and “opt-out” and I prefer “opt-out.” If we ask for signups then it usually ends up as the same ~6 families feeding 12-80 people every single day of build season, which is ridiculously unfair. Last year we signed up every family for a day or two and told them that they could remove themselves from the list if they were unwilling or unable to bring food for any reason. By the end of build season, meal duties had been split between 56 separate families.

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Some food supply stores - for example, Gordon Food Service in the Great Lakes area - will have loyalty programs. When team families shop at the store, a portion of the purchase is applied to a gift card for the team - I’m sure it requires non-profit status. Of course, someone still has to cook the food for the team.

+1 - and occasionally non-parent mentors will help out, too.

Team 766 is lucky enough to get food brought for all 45 members of our team for every meeting. Usually we’ll reach out to a huge number of restaurants (upwards of 40) via email and phone call to find enough food. The companies most willing to donate are usually larger chains, and sometimes big companies (Google, SoftBank, etc) will donate their leftovers. All parents have to do is pick up the food and bring it to school— it works well for us!


One more thing— I usually start reaching out in early November to give restaurants enough time to check their emails, contact corporate offices, etc. It’s definitely not too late now, but it’s something that’s easier the earlier you start!

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My old team does a parent meeting during Kickoff. One of the things we do is pass around a signup sheet for meals. We then add them to SignUpGenius electronically so that they get a reminder email when their date is coming up and can trade or cancel if need be. We also send out the electronic link once we’ve inputted all of the data so that people can sign up who didn’t get the chance or weren’t sure in person. Peer pressure works great, here :stuck_out_tongue:.

It’s usually a mix of home cooked food and stuff purchased from restaurants. It’s reassuring to parents that when their kids are going to be away from home multiple nights per week, they will still get some home-cooked meals. We also give parents the option of having food delivered to the school (rules vary by school/workspace, obviously) if they’re unavailable themselves. We don’t require anyone to sign up but strongly encourage everyone to pick at least one day. 80%+ of families will sign up for at least one, with many signing up for two.

As an aside, if you have a fridge, leftovers make great snacks, of course.


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