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  • Writer's pictureElissa Strassman

Tips for Donating Food to a Food Pantry or Food Bank

It is around this time of year that we often think about the things we are grateful for, and look for ways to give back.

One thing people often think about is their ability to feed themselves and their family. Did you know many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal assistance programs? Food banks and other food programs are just a few places where people may turn for some additional support.

If you have been considering donating food to a food pantry, or food bank, to help someone who may need some additional support, the following tips may help:

Tips for Donating Food to a Food Pantry or Bank

1. Decide where you will be donating:

  • To learn about where you can find a food pantry or bank near you visit here.

For people located in Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties in NY, visit here.

  • Some things you may want to learn:

    • When they accept donations

    • What ways they prefer to receive donations:

      • Some food pantries or banks accept monetary donations

      • Some have online wish lists or stores

      • Others have traditional food donations

      • Some offer all of the above

2. Find out what they need:

  • Some food pantries have lists of items that they could use more of, and some that they do not need any more food donations of.

    • If they have a website, they may post this online, for others, it may be helpful to give them a call ahead of time.

3. For the most part, try and donate nutrient dense foods to help support a healthy pantry and family. Some items to consider:

  • Whole Grains: look for whole grain pasta, rice, breads, tortillas, cereal, quinoa, farro, barley, pancake mixes, oats, cornmeal, grits, etc.

  • Canned, Dried, or Freeze-Dried Fruits and Vegetables: opt for lower sodium, or no salt added canned vegetables, or fruits packed in their own juice, or water.

  • Shelf Stable Dairy or Dairy Alternatives: Think boxed, powdered, or canned milks.

  • Shelf Stable Protein: look for canned chicken or seafood, canned or dried beans and legumes, peanut/nut butters, nuts, seeds, or shelf stable tofu.

  • Things to cook food with and make it delicious: oils, dried herbs, spices, low sodium broths, stocks, and condiments!

  • Easy to make meals(that may be lower in sodium): meal kits, just add water, or easy open and go, all work here.

  • A wide variety of food items that can support a diverse community.

Some things best to avoid:

  • Expired foods, or foods that are marked past their sell by date

  • Things packaged in glass jars

  • Something that has already been opened

  • Dented or bloated cans

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