Thanksgiving is the season for giving and food pantries are a great place to donate. Is your workplace or church hosting a food drive? Here are the best donations to give food banks, canned good drives, missions and homeless shelters this holiday season. If you’ve worked at food banks you know that some foods are donated in over-abundance. There are also certain food basket donations you never have enough of. So give these foods and supplies to the next Thanksgiving and Christmas food drive.
Paper products, personal hygiene, health and beauty aids, healthcare and household items. These items may not be purchased with food stamps, WIC or a bridge card, but people still need them. A food drive looks to feed people, but it also seeks to help in other areas. Missions and homeless shelters, particularly, need personal care items. Give shampoo, cream rinse, soap, dental floss, toothpaste, toilet paper, zippered plastic bags, paper lunch sacks, feminine protection products, tampons, sanitary napkins, dish soap, laundry soap, fabric softener and cleansing powder. Missions always need antifungal cream and powder, anti-itch lotion, first aid cream, bandages, hemorrhoid cream and lip balm.
Canned and packaged entrees: Food banks always seem to run out of entrees first. Give Thanksgiving food basket donations with protein or meat. Donate canned fish, canned chicken, foil packaged tuna, canned salmon or mackerel. Give refried beans, kidney beans, pork and beans, peanuts, peanut butter, almond butter, nuts, canned pasta with meat, chili, corned beef hash, beef stew, canned soups, tamales, cream soup, canned milk, protein bars, protein drinks, cheese sauce and canned macaroni and cheese. People who frequent a food drive may be homeless, so they have no way to cook. Donating packaged convenience foods makes life a little easier. salsa with beans and pasta sauce.
Packaged foods to avoid donating to a food drive: Don’t give paper wrapped foods. They are vulnerable to mealworms. Avoid foods that sell on the shelf, but should be refrigerated, such as tortilla shells. Thanksgiving food basket donations should include double wrapped baking supplies, baking mix, breakfast cereal, hot cereal, oatmeal packets, pancake mix, boxed pasta, boxed crackers, beans, rice, cake mix, tea bags, school snacks and syrup.
Canned foods to give and avoid: The most commonly donated canned foods are canned peas, corn and beans. Food shelters have an abundance, so be creative and donate other canned vegetables. Donate carrots, beets, spinach, mixed vegetables, regional vegetables, mushrooms and asparagus. Canned fruit is always welcome at food banks. Donate applesauce, fruit cocktail, peaches, pineapple, tropical fruit, grapefruit, pears, berries and mandarin oranges. Look for no-added sugar fruit. Give cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin pie mix or pumpkin and canned cherry pie filling for Thanksgiving food basket donations. Individual applesauce and fruit cups are always in demand at food banks.
Before the haves celebrate their Thanksgiving bounty, it’s important to make sure those who have not are also fed. Encourage children to help shop for and pack food basket donations for those in need. This teaches them the real meaning of thanksgiving: giving thanks in deeds of charity.