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If you wish to donate food to fight hunger, you should check what local food banks require to not burden food banks with the food items that take up a lot of space or are not required. You will find food pantry items that you should donate to food banks in this article.
You need to remember that food banks clients may suffer from various health issues like diabetes, so foods with high fiber or low sugar are better than processed foods. You can also start a food drive instead of donating food to a food bank. No matter which source of donation you choose, there are certain things you should keep in mind before donating anything.
What Kind of Food Pantry items Should you Donate?
Food banks usually accept dry and canned foods. Any non-perishable food can be kept in the pantry for a long time without going bad. Keep in mind that you donate food that has not reached its expiration date yet.
Food items like peanut butter, pasta, canned soup, canned fish, canned beans, and canned vegetables are the best options to donate. Foodbank and clients regularly need such items. Some foodbanks accept other household items as well. You should check your local food bank to get recommendations specific to your area. However, a general list can be made:
- Serials and oatmeal
- Potatoes and apples
- Toilet papers
- Sliced bread
- Canned vegetables and fruits
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.
- Diapers and wipes
- Milk products
- Baby food
- Dry fruits
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Unsalted nuts
- Brown rice
- Pasta sauce
- Chicken, beef
Food banks or food pantries are non-profit organizations, so they depend on people’s generosity to provide food for the weaker sections of society. Some food pantries accept fresh vegetables and food, but canned types are always preferred when it comes to food pantry items. You should donate powdered milk instead of milk because it is easy to transport. Grain products are usually considered the best choice for donations.
Some foodbanks also accept many non-food items like toiletries (soap, shampoo, deodorants, tissue paper, shaving soap, etc.). Whenever food banks require donations, they call for it. If you are willing to donate, you should always check different food banks’ online websites to get notified.
What Should Food Pantry Items not be Donated?
There is one golden rule to it- if the food item you are donating is perishable, which means it has a limited shelf life, no food bank will accept it (unless it is refrigerated). There are some categories of food that you cannot donate:
Baked food items
Since it cannot be verified how the baked goods were made or their ingredients, you would not donate them. Food banks usually do not accept baked goods, but they have contacts with local restaurants or bakeries that regularly donate extra food.
You may want to share delicious food left after-parties, but it will be a better idea to keep them for the family. Food banks do not accept any food pantry items made in personal kitchens because they are not sealed, and their ingredients cannot be verified. The preparation process cannot be known either. All this is done to ensure that the people food banks serve are safe.
Items that Require Refrigeration
Food pantry items like dairy products or meat spoil if not refrigerated. Food banks also do not have a refrigerator to keep this item fresh.
This should be a no brainer that you cannot serve your family. It would help if you were not donating it to another family. Food items that pass their use-by or sell-by date should strictly not be donated. These are unsafe to eat.
Food banks do not accept food items with packaging problems- food pantry items with damaged packaging such as dented cans or those whose packaging is already open. Food items in glass containers should also not be donated as they can shatter easily and cause food safety concerns for any other food items stored near them.
If you would not buy something for your family, you should not be donating it. These guild lines are set by food banks so that they can serve the needy people efficiently.
Food banks aim to offer a diversity of food items to balance nutritional intake and diet, especially to children and senior citizens with health challenges.
How Long Past Date do Food Banks Usually Distribute Commonly Donated Food Pantry Items
- Dry beans and nuts- 1 year
- Food in glass, plastic container– 2 to 3 years
- Canned food (high acid)- 12 to 18 months
- Uncooked rice/ pasta- 1 to 2 year
- Canned foods (low acid)- 2 to 3 years
- Cereal and crackers- 1 to 2 year
- Baking mixes- 8 months
Monetary Donations for Food Pantry Items
You can also donate money so that food banks can operate well. The money you donate is used for various operations such as infrastructure, marketing, staff support, and ongoing supplies.
Money helps them to cover the cost associated with building the pantry in new locations. They also need to give salaries to people that work in the pantry like the food pantry coordinator and different volunteers. Money is also used for marketing services to get the word out into the community.
We would advise you to include another essential item- a can opener. The people who depend on food banks for food do not have can openers. It will become difficult for them to open the cans they are given.
So, the next time you go grocery shopping, consider buying a can opener so that it becomes easier for the receiver of your donation to eat what they are given.
Cooking essentials like spices, salt, pepper, or garlic powder should also be donated. These help in making a meal taste good. Even if you don’t have a baby in your house, you should consider donating things for a baby like diapers, baby food, etc. it will make it easier for families that face economic problems to raise their babies.
You will also find meals in the box in the market these days. This is an excellent option if you want to donate food pantry items. The food bank would happily accept an entire meal in one package.
Look for food items that are lower in sodium and higher in fiber and protein. Always try to avoid junk food. The food bank also appreciates easy breakfasts and special treats. There are pancakes or muffin mixes available in the market that only require water. These also can be donated. Other mixes that require additional ingredients like oils can be problematic for the receiver to consume.
A lot of needy people also have food allergies. The food you donate should be allergy-friendly so that everybody can consume it. Items that are gluten-free, nut-free, or dairy-free should be preferred.
Feminine hygiene products like tampons, feminine wipes, pads, and panty liners are also an excellent option for donations. The homeless and needy women in our community need these items. Socks are essential for people to like on the streets.
Clean underwear is also the right choice that people often ignore. The list is very long, but if you are willing to donate something from your food pantry to a food bank, you should know what they are looking for. It would help if you did not hesitate to contact food banks and shelters and ask them the requirements. Now that you know everything, you are all set. Go out there and donate.