If you google phrases like “food pantry most needed items” or “food bank items to donate,” you’ll see a variety of Top 10 lists and tip sheets. What they typically will do is break things down into food items and non-food items, along these lines:
High-priority food items:
- Canned meals such as canned soup, raviola or other pasta meals.
- Canned meat, such as tuna, salmon or chicken. Think bland – children often won’t eat more exotic-tasting items like canned sardines.
- Canned fruits. This can include peaches, pineapple, pears or fruit cocktails.
- Gluten-free items, such as rice-based cereals, rice, various kinds of packaged chips and popcorn that are labeled as gluten-free.
- Fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, potatoes, apples and oranges.
- Basic pantry items are very useful, such as rice, flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pepper.
- Powdered milk. Milk can be difficult for many low-income families to keep cold, but powdered milk can be stored in a pantry as a backup.
- Juice boxes are convenient, good for children and can be stored at room temperature.
Non-Food Items To Donate
- Household cleaning supplies, such as dishsoap, hand soap, sponges, wash clothes, bleach, sanitizing wipes and paper towels.
- Feminine hygiene products, such as tampons, pads, panty liners and feminine wipes.
- Baby diapers and wipes (unscented is best, in case of allergic reactions or skin sensitivity).
- Other baby items such as baby soap, shampoo and diaper rash cream or new baby bottles.
- Socks, underwear and warm sweaters.
Tips for donating
- Check the expiration dates and make sure the items are not expired.
- Of course, make sure the items have not been opened or used.
- If you can afford it, think of buying items to donate, especially high priority items, like canned tuna, chicken or ravioli, that food banks often need but don’t get enough of.
- Remember that people in need of food often don’t have more than the very basic essentials for preparing food. They might have some pots, but not necessarily a crock pot or toaster oven.
- Self-contained meal kits that don’t require extra ingredients. There are some pasta dinner boxes where the pasta and the flavoring are both included, for example.
- Pancake mix that uses only water and no other ingredients, such as milk, eggs or vegetable oil.
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