By: Kathy Trainor
You may not realize it, but there are items besides soup that your local food bank needs. They aren’t considered “essentials” so the staff doesn’t publicly ask for them. At one of my recent visits I asked the food bank volunteers what items people would appreciate the most, and I’ve listed the top 10 below. If you’re looking for an easy way to help out, pick some of these up next time you’re out shopping and drop them off at one of our area food banks. Not sure where your local food bank is? You can contact United Way or family resources center for more information. Keep in mind often if your area doesn’t have a food bank, they may have a homeless shelter and they can also use the below items.
Think about it. People who use the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. They love spices. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.
2. Feminine Products
Can you imagine being worried about affording these? Pads, tampons, panty liners, etc. Recommended: Buy in bulk for donating.
People don’t need it, but think about being in their shoes and how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials. This also hold true for cake mixes- everyone has a birthday.
Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. If you are savvy at couponing, you can usually get these items for next to nothing. Donate 1 or 2 to your local food bank.
5. Canned meats and jerky
This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give provide enough protein. Canned meat and jerkey have a longer shelf life and are easy to use for many of the homeless families that may use the food bank
6. Crackers and tortillas
They don’t spoil as quickly and everybody likes them.
7. Baby needs
Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.
8. Soup packets
Sometimes you look at rice, beans, instant potatoes, and cans of vegetables and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal. This is better than a canned soup any day.
One Saturday when I was working at the Food Bank a young man once said, “Socks mean the world to me. They keep me warm, make me feel like I have something new, and just comfortable.”
10. Canned fruit other than pineapple
Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. They also love it when other kinds of fruit are available.