Food For Me: Citizen Action For Community Food Recovery
Originally prepared by C. Joyce Kleffner, Extension educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Revised and updated by Kate Yerxa, Extension educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Take this chart with you when you go grocery shopping to help you choose healthy foods to donate to the food pantries, or use it to help you organize a community food drive.
Check with your county University of Maine Cooperative Extension office for a listing of pantries or food assistance programs in your area and accompanying donation information, or visit the County Search for Food Assistance Programs on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources website.
If you want to donate fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables or other perishable food items, please call the food pantry first to be sure they can accept them. Keep these items refrigerated or frozen to keep them safe.
What Do Food Banks Need At Christmas
Festive treats are appreciated as food donations at food banks during the Christmas holidays particularly Christmas pudding, as it often comes with a long-life use by date. The Trussell Trust recommends non-alcoholic puddings.
Chocolate coins and Christmas dinner non-perishables such as tinned pies, vegetables, condiments, and gravy are all appreciated this time of year. Festive treats for those who can’t afford them at this time of year are welcome.
How To Volunteer For Food Banks This Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, food pantry or food bank.
Between assembling Thanksgiving meal boxes or serving food at a Thanksgiving dinner, there are a lot of ways to help families in need make the holiday special.
Click here to locate volunteer opportunities through one of the many partners with Feeding America.
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Can You Put Alcohol In A Food Bank
Alcohol isnt something food banks give out, for fairly obvious reasons, as much as its a part of Christmas for millions of families. But more than that, its also a large part of a lot of festive staples. A classic Christmas pudding will include as much as 5% brandy, with others also including cider, sherry and rum.
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What Items Do Food Banks Need Most
Food banks mostly need long-life products that have extended use-by dates or non-perishables such as tinned vegetables and fish, biscuits, and sugar for example.
Tinned foods are often the first thing people think to donate however, other store cupboard essentials like stock cubes, condiments and spices, and jarred sauces are also welcome.
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Your Donations Make A Difference
You may not see the direct effects, but your donations make a huge difference to the many people who use or rely on food banks or soup kitchens.
If you donate at your local supermarket to a Trussell Trust food bank, your donations will form part of a food parcel that provides at-risk families with enough food for at least three days of healthy, balanced meals.
These parcels change peoples lives. Your act of kindness greatly impacts peoples futures. In addition, if you buy products by a brand that supports a social cause such as us at Integritty Foods who promise to give a soup to a person in need for every soup we sell you can have an even greater effect.
Most Needed Food Bank Donations
Most food pantries have an overabundance of things like corn or beans. This year donate things like peanut butter or canned tuna or chicken.
While food banks are in major need of donations, especially around the holidays, there are some foods that are more helpful than others. Clearing out your pantry of unwanted items might help you reduce clutter and allow you to make a donation, but if you dont want some strange can of food chances are a food pantry wont benefit from it either. Some of the most needed food bank donations are often the most forgotten. Make your donation a little more beneficial this year with items like:
Consider donating items that are appropriate for several age groups like instant oatmeal or various canned fruits and vegetables.
Peanut butter & jelly Full meals in a can/box Instant breakfasts Instant mashed potatoes
Food pantries are in dire need of foods for varied diets. High-protein items that can be created into balanced meals for people of all ages are in demand. While any donation is appreciated, food pantries want to be able to provide a good source of nutrients for individuals and families.
Add value to your donation this holiday season. Dont donate anything you wouldnt be happy to feed your family.
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Food Donations To Help Feed Families This Thanksgiving
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As Americans get ready for the holiday season, millions will turn to food donations and assistance from organizations to help get meals on the table.
Over 33 million Americans lived in food-insecure households last year, with 8.6 million adults living in very low food security households, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition data. According to the agency, food-insecure households are defined as households that are “uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.”
Dried Herbs And Spices
Spices like black pepper, basil and cinnamon can be little luxuries to the less fortunate, and they come with added health benefits. This is a healthy way to add flavor to salads or meat without additional salt to the diet, Chou says. Turmeric, cumin, parsley and rosemary are other healthful options to donate. Health benefit: Theyre high in polyphenols and antioxidants, which delay cell damage.
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Best Foods To Donate To A Food Drive
The holiday season is full of opportunities to give to those who cant afford to put nourishing meals on their familys table.
And we desperately need to take advantage of these opportunities.
Though hunger may sound like a problem of the past since obesity is often the more visible and talked-about issue this is far from the truth. More than 49 million Americans live in food-insecure households, and 16 million of these people are children.
What hungry families need is not the Kraft Mac & Cheese thats been sitting at the back of our pantry for two years, or the ketchup we never got around to using. Rather, they need healthy, high-quality foods that promote good eating habits any improved overall health.
Below are some of the best foods you can donate to a food drive or food bank.
Top 10 Foods to Give to a Food Bank
1. Canned fish and lean meats. Canned salmon, tuna, and chicken are high in protein and provide a great base for healthy meals.
2. Peanut butter / other nut butters. These or packaged nuts are great sources of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fat. Theyre an especially helpful donation because theyre usually too expensive for food banks to purchase in sufficient quantities.
3. Healthy soups and stews. Look for low-sodium, organic, and natural brands of canned soup or stew. These provide needed nutrients and a way for families with limited resources to sit down to a healthy family meal.
Brown Rice Or Whole Wheat Pasta
These two are whole grain winners because theyre easy to store, and a little goes a long way for individuals and families. Just a half-cup serving can keep the tummy satisfied. Compared with white rice, brown rice is definitely better nutritionally, Umbriac says. Health benefit: Research shows whole grains may help keep body weight down prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, says Washington dietitian Katherine Tallmadge, author of Diet Simple.
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The Best Items Your Food Bank Needs The Most
It is that time of the year where we get to start thinking about what delicious foods we will gather around whilst talking with those who we hold closest to us. Have you ever thought about how all of us have one particular thing in common that unites us all? We want to say that it is food. However, some people in our communities do not have the access to such items to make meals for themselves as well as their families. So, you might be wondering what to donate to a food pantry? We are here to help answer that question.
To begin, The Gateway Region YMCA is a nonprofit, 501 charity dedicated to nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving health and well-being, and supporting and serving our neighbors. We believe in giving back to our communities who do so much for us! In an attempt to give back, we encourage not only our Y members to give back, but also those people who reside in our communities. When you give back to food banks in your area, that action gives back directly to your neighbors, and makes an influence greater than we will ever know. After all, some people who attend food banks are going through hard times and might be ashamed to otherwise ask for assistance. You are not only helping out strangers but potentially friends and family, too.
What Impact Means For Charitiesand For Your Donations
Some charities create a lot of change with the donations given to them. Others have almost nothing to show for the money coming from donors, says Greg Thomson, director of research at Charity Intelligence , a non-profit that helps Canadians make informed giving decisions.
Indeed, there are charities that can take a $100-donation and turn it into nearly $700 worth of value for the people it supports and society at large. For example, a charity that helps at-risk teens could provide a sizable financial benefit to the youth who use its programs , as well as to the greater community through costs savings to the public health-care and shelter systems.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are charities that destroy value, perhaps producing just $40 worth of measurable change from the same $100-donation because of spending too much in relation to the benefit they create. For example, charities that grant wishes to critically ill children often spend upwards of $25,000 per child, but the value provided to the child and their family is much lower, says Thomson.
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.
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What To Donate To A Food Bank
While food banks always provide a minimum of three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable tinned and dried foods, what you should donate to a food bank differs depending on where you are – and what food bank you’re donating to.
Typically food banks are looking for donations of food products from supermarkets, such as:
Lots of food banks will also offer essential non-food items , such as toiletries and hygiene products.
However, because the supplies to food banks differ between areas, its important to check with your local food bank what kind of supplies theyre most in need of at the moment. An easy way to do this is to use the search box at the bottom of this page , underneath Items to donate. It will tell you the products and food items that your local food bank is in need of at the moment.
If you are in the position to donate to a local food bank, now is the time to do so, with more people needing their services every day.
What Food Banks Need
Its best to check your local food bank to get area-specific recommendations , but heres a general list of items that most food banks need:
- Healthy cereals and oatmeal
- Bags of potatoes or apples
- Kids snack items
- Jars and pouches of baby food
- Personal hygiene products, like sanitary pads
- Toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, lip balm
- Canned fish and meat
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Hunters And Meat Processing
HUSH, or Help Us Stop Hunger, reduces Iowas deer population and provides high-quality ground venison to Iowans facing hunger through food banks. Hunters can donate legally harvested deer through participating USDA meat lockers. If you have any questions, please email or call 515-725-8265.
Processing your own pork, beef or other meat? We welcome donations processed in a USDA-inspected locker. Your locker will be able to tell you whether they meet these requirements.
Distributing Food Where Its Needed Most
With the help of farmers, wholesalers, restaurants, community members, and others, we source the food for over 45 million meals each year. And thanks to our hundreds of partners in the community, were able to get that food to the individuals and families who need it most.
450+ Food Assistance Partners
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Foster told TODAY that in her experience as a smaller pantry, meat and fresh vegetables are highly coveted food items.
A lot of the donation boxes have canned meat and cooked meat, like meatballs and chicken patties, to serve unhoused families, or folks without kitchens, she explained. But fresh meat and vegetables make people with kitchens very happy.
For community grassroots food efforts like hers, Foster advised people to give what no one will get anywhere else.
Pantry items, she said. Salt, sugar, condiments, baking items, spices, herbs, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo, SazÃ³n, garlic powder, hot sauce. Every couple of months we did giant pantry giveaways where the community gave us cash, and we just bought all kinds of pantry items. People loved it because they are getting boxes with squash and cooked meatballs, but no cooking oil, no salt. How can you make a dinner your kids will eat without salt?
And Dont Forget About Beauty Banks
Beauty Banks is a non-profit organisation that collects and distributes personal care and beauty items to people who need them. Set up by beauty writer Sali Hughes and beauty PR Jo Jones, Beauty Banks works with charity partners who are registered foodbanks and shelters to distribute these essential personal items to those who will benefit most.
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How To Help Fight Food Insecurity This Thanksgiving
Nonprofits like Feeding America, which works with a network of food banks and food programs nationwide, offer lots of free resources for people who want to help tackle food insecurity, especially during the holidays.
Start by locating a nearby food bank to donate Thanksgiving essentials, such as canned goods or other non-perishable foods, for a great way to help neighbors in need.
Thanksgiving is almost one week away and is one of the busiest times of the year for food banks. While youre collecting items for your Thanksgiving table, pick up some additional non-perishable foods for your local food bank.
Places To Donate Food
There are food recipient organizations across the country. The following sites offer tools to help donors find nearby food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that may accept wholesome, excess food.
- Feeding America is a national network of food banks, individuals, national offices, and corporate and government partners working to combat hunger in the U.S. Use the Find Your Local Food Bank tool to locate food programs by state or zip code.
- Ample Harvest is a nationwide effort to educate, enable, and encourage gardeners to donate extra produce to local food pantries. Use their Find a Pantry tool to donate food you grow or buy.
- The Homeless Shelter Directory is a crowdsourced listing for people who want to find and donate food and/or supplies to their local shelter.
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What To Donate To A Food Bank And What To Avoid
So, youre ready to donate food to your local food bank. Thats great! Whether youre starting a food drive or just planning to grab a few extra items for donation while out grocery shopping, there are a couple of things you should know about what you can donate and what food banks wont accept.
What food you CAN donate to your local food bank:
This part is pretty easy. Food banks accept dry and canned food donations. What does that mean? Basically, any food that is shelf-stable or nonperishable you can keep it in your pantry and it wont go bad. And remember, only donate food that hasnt reached its sell-by date yet. Specifically, food banks often need items like:
Thats definitely not an exhaustive list but it covers a lot of what food banks regularly need. Additionally, some food banks accept personal care and household items, since many families struggle to afford these items and they arent covered by other food assistance programs like SNAP.
If youre still stumped about what to donate, just look in your own pantry. Families struggling with hunger often cant afford the staples that we normally have stocked at home. So, check your pantry out and go from there. Even specialty foods like olive oil, dressings, or marinades can be helpful if they dont need to be refrigerated.
What not to donate to a food bank
Where can I donate food near me?