For years, when asked to donate to food drives, I admit I reached in the pantry and grabbed whatever random thing was in there that wasn’t going into my own personal dinner for the week. There was a bit of thoughtlessness to this act of charity when I really should have been thinking, “What is going to benefit these people that really need this food donation the most?” There was a bit of a wake-up call when I got a sheet home from my kids schools explaining just what the food pantry really need donated this holiday season (and all the time). And it wasn’t what I was giving them.
I shouldn’t have been surprised at the requests–people in need of donations really want to eat as healthy as I do, they just have less means to do so. One that did surprise me was the need for milk–boxed milk like Silk Almondmilk or Silk Soymilk. #plantprotien Something I buy all the time I didn’t think a food pantry would want but is really in need of! So while you’re putting together donations for this holiday season, here are a few things to think about.
What to Donate to Food Pantries That They Really Need
1. Shelf-stable milk. I looked at over a dozen food pantry sites, and this was a consistent request. There’s the powdered instant kind that is all dairy, but lots that are available in boxes. Plenty of needy people have dietary restrictions, and boxes of Silk Almondmilk, Silk Soymilk and Silk Coconutmilk would be greatly appreciated. These boxes go on sale all the time at the grocery store–picking up one or two extra while you’re shopping when they are will make that little bit of difference in someone else’s life!
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2. Fruit. In general, the pantries don’t seem to get enough of these, and they’d like more than that lonely can of pineapple hidden in the back of the shelf. Peaches, fruit cocktails, pears, oranges–lots to choose from at the grocery store. Shop for them like you’d shop for you--look for the no sugar added label, and for fruits in water, not heavy sugary syrups. Dried fruits like cranberries and raisins are also a good choice!
3. Protein! Most pantries are desperately in need of good quality proteins. Canned tuna and chicken, beans, peanut butter and almond butters are nutritional building blocks that they don’t receive enough of.
4. Whole-grain pasta, rice, cereals and bread mixes. If you’re donating mixes, be sure they don’t require a lot of other ingredients to make them. The other ingredients may be hard to come by for the recipient.
5. Low-sodium veggies. If you have to use canned veggies instead of fresh for yourself, look for the healthier low-sodium options. When you shop for food pantry donations, do the same!
6. Around the holidays, items for holiday meals. Almost everyone loves to celebrate the holidays, and being able to pick up a can of sweet potatoes a box of stuffing or ingredients for a green bean casserole is going to help those in need celebrate the holidays.
7. Condiments and spices. When recipients get home with their cans of tuna and green beans, really do need the spices and condiments to help them actually make a meal that is palatable out of what they get. We often overlook things like mayonnaise, spices, vegetable oil, dressings, syrup and the like as something food pantries need, but those basic items are important, too!
8. Snacks for kids. More often than not, it’s families shopping the food pantry. Just like us, their kids come home from school ravenous for something to snack on. Boxes of granola bars and other healthy (not junk food) bagged easy to eat snacks are needed as well.
9. Soap products. Dish detergent, laundry detergent, hand soap and other cleaning products are needed. Those that can’t afford food can’t really afford items to clean with, either.
10. Personal care items. Shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, deodorant and more personal products are truly needed. Again, budgets that have difficulty buying food have difficulty buying all those little things we take for granted we easily have.
11. Baby items. Diapers, wipes, infant formula, baby food, instant cereals–these are mostly families at these pantries and often have small children that need caring for!
Hopefully, this sheds a little light on what food pantries really need from you to stock their shelves when you’re shopping this holiday season. Helping someone in need celebrate the season may be one of the best acts of Christmas kindness you can make.
Don’t forget to stop by the Silk website and sign up for the Silk newsletter and get coupons for Silk products. They’ll help your food pantry donation dollars go further!
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.