Best Items to Donate to Food Pantries

We’ve probably (hopefully) all donated to a food pantry or hunger drive before. The can of chicken noodle soup in the back of the pantry, the box of macaroni and cheese, the canned green beans you’ll never eat: when you don’t want them, they often end up at the food pantry. While you likely donated your old pantry items with the best intentions at heart, sometimes your donations to the food pantry are less useful than you’d think. Any donation is often better than no donation, but here are five items you can donate that most food pantries typically need, as well as some tips to make sure your donation does as much good as it can.

Stocking Your Pantry, the Smart Way - The New York Times

1. Non-Perishable Proteins

As you’d expect, canned or jarred proteins are a great item to donate to pantries that will almost always be readily accepted and immensely useful! Canned beans are an obvious example, but you can also donate canned animal protein like chicken or tuna. Peanut butter is also a great option because of it’s versatility! Just be sure that every item you donate is sealed and has not yet expired – making volunteers sort through and throw away expired donations means more work for them and less food for the community!

2. Canned or Boxed Meals

Ready-to-make meals can also be very useful, as its a large portion with little prep required! Just be conscious of what extra ingredients the meal would require; macaroni and cheese may taste great, but it takes milk and butter to be consumable. Not everyone that uses food pantry donations will have these kinds of extras readily accessible, so truly ready-to-go options like canned soup or microwave meals are your best bet!

3. Baby food

High quality, nutrient-dense baby food are often incredibly useful for many food pantries, but it’s an item that’s very rarely donated. Jarred baby food is a great way for food-insecure parents to ensure their child is getting all the nutrients they need, so head to the bulk aisle and grab a case to donate!

4. Shelf-stable milk

Shelf-stable milk can be added to many meals for an extra calorie and nutrient boost, and it’s also under-donated item! Shelf-stable options ensure pantries will be able to distribute the items to those in need before they expire, and they mean no fridge is required once the individual receives the item. Maybe even donate a box with some mac and cheese to make a more complete meal!

5. Cooking essentials

While they may not be the most nutrient-dense item, a few jarred spices can go a long way in making a bland meal more appealing. Everyone deserves flavorful food, and donating a few spices ensures that donation recipients can enjoy a tasty meal without having to drop a significant portion of their budget on seasonings. Cooking oils, like olive oil or canola oil, are high-fat options that also make impactful donations, and flour is a versatile donation that will last a long time!

These are just a few ideas to get you started on making impactful donations to your local food pantry. Make sure to call your pantry and ask if there are any items they are especially in need of as well. Stock can change frequently, and sometimes they will be more in need of one kind of item than others. Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about food bank donation, and thank you for donating! Your community appreciates you.

See you next week with a new post! Recipe? Grocery list? Humor piece on sharing a fridge with 4 people? Who knows! Stay tuned x

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