10 Things Food Banks Need But Won’t Ask For
Some items are in high demand at the food bank and you may not realize it. Because they aren’t essentials, the staff doesn’t publicly ask for them. A survey asked volunteers what items people would be most appreciative of and we’ve listed the top 10 below. If you’re looking for an easy way to help out, pick some of these up while shopping and drop them off at one of our area food banks.
Think about it. People who rely on 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 at Costco 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.
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. Food stamps often don’t cover these.
5. Canned meats and jerky.
This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.
6. Crackers and tortillas.
They don’t spoil and everybody likes them.
7. Baby toiletries.
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 vegetable and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal.
From a former homeless person: “Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you.”
10. Canned fruit other than pineapple.
Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. Their clients love it when other kinds of fruit are available.
And remember! Food banks love cash donations because it allows them to buy whatever they need!
If you don’t know where your local food bank is, you can go here: Feeding America.
Also, many local churches have food pantries. You can find one in your area by going here: Food Pantries.
From someone who has used a food bank:
As a sometimes food pantry user myself and with friends who rely on them to varying degrees – I want to specifically stress some of these:
- non-food items like tp and feminine products and baby needs are SO incredibly important because 1) they are rarely donated, 2) people who have food stamps can often afford their food staples but might still need help with toiletries and cleaning items, and 3) folks who are homeless especially need that kinda stuff!
- treats! Like, yes of course, if I am in need I am appreciative of canned goods and rice and pasta and stuff. That’s great for putting together healthy meals. But everyone needs a treat once in awhile – so when there is candy or chips or a nice expensive brand of organic something or other available at the pantry – it is just so incredibly exciting.
It can be a humiliating experience to visit a pantry, and it can make you feel very much less than. So to get a treat of some sort just really really makes a difference. And believe me – there are enough loaves of bread, cans of fruit, and dried beans to go around at these places. You won’t be starving someone by donating some microwave popcorn or chocolate chips now and again. I promise!