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Kerry Beal

Food Drive / Food Bank Donations

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The rug rat's agenda came home in her school bag today with a little note to say that tomorrow we were to send canned food to school for the annual holiday season food drive.

Well, a quick peruse through the can drawers didn't really yield anything that would make a meal, so I realized I'd have to hit the grocery store to get a few things.

After following the thread about "Feeding Friends who Don't Care about Food" it occured to me that when choosing food for the food bank, I'm certainly not purchasing the same food I would prefer to eat myself. I recall a time that I went to the grocery store, purchased a whole load of groceries for a woman and her children (energetic little critters) who had recently moved into housing after leaving a shelter - the next day I dropped by with some other items they needed and found a pound of butter sitting melting on the front steps.

So I left the store with 3 or 4 cans of tuna, a couple of cans of baked beans, a big bag of pasta, a couple of cans of sauce, and several packages of Kraft dinner. Things I considered purchasing but didn't were a big can of coffee, some canned and dried fruits.

In past years I've given big bags of oatmeal (always wondered if anyone bothers to cook oatmeal or if they would prefer those little prepackaged instant cereals), canned soups and stews and boxed cereals.

It would be nice if there were a way to get fresh foods to the people who need them.

So what sort of things do you donate to the food bank?

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My kids are active in Scouting, and one of their big service projects is food drives. I've found that there are two types of food closets -- 1) the ones that want only canned goods, and 2) the ones that take just about anything non-perishable, even if it isn't in a can. I assume vermin protection is the driving force between the two.

For the former, I tend to send tuna, vienna sausages, canned soups, canned sweet potatoes -- basically anything that's useful and tasty out of the can even if you don't have any real cooking facilities. Salsa is a nice touch if the coordinators don't mind glass packaging.

For the latter type, I send in blue box mac and cheese because I have been told that it's very popular and moves quickly. Pre-packaged instant flavored oatmeal is also a good bet, as are the new Hamburger Helpers that include the meat and only need hot water.

These might not be your top choices, but one needs to think of feeding folks who don't have extra goodies to make things taste good, but still want to enjoy their meal, have full tummies, and happy kids. The blue box does that.

A friend who works for a local aid group tells horror stories of donated artichoke hearts and escargot. They aren't popular, but someone has to get them.

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We give canned meal-type foods, like Chef Boyardee stuff, and canned stews. Baked beans and chili too, as well as meat products like Spam, tuna, corned beef, vienna sausages, and canned chicken.

I think high protien-more nutritional bang for my donation.

I view food pantries with a skeptical eye, since I know of perfectly employed and quite comfortable people taking advantage of these, pleading poor, and literally begging at local churches. I donate to a few specific local shelters, usually, and it's non-food stocking stuffer type stuff, like socks, toothbrushes, decks of cards, lip balm, hair ties, tiny toys, key chains, sewing kits, etc.


Edited by Lilija (log)

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I think the donations that I make have changed since, through my job, I've had the opportunity to talk more with people who receive food stamp education (they are often also using food pantries/donations to supplement their food supply).

I'll hear many people talk about how glad they were to find whole-wheat pasta, fruit packed in juice instead of heavy syrup, canned vegetables without added salt, unflavored oatmeal, etc. *Granted, my viewpoint is skewed because these are people who voluntarily seek sessions on how to eat healthier foods.* But it now makes me think about how giving someone the choice of "healthier"food, or food that I might choose for myself, is providing them with the opportunity to be proud of what they can bring into their home and prepare for themselves and/or their families. I try not to make the ingredients too complicated (seriously-escargots? :raz: ) but I sure as heck am not donating the cheapest crap that's laden with trans fat, low-quality ingredients, etc.

Also, having worked in a community kitchen that relied heavily on donated foods, it was sometimes a pleasant surprise to find things like bulgur, roasted red peppers, ground buffalo, etc.

I'm sure there are many people- perhaps the vast majority- who do not prefer some of the foods that I donate. They may require certain cooking abilities, perhaps even cooking equipment that a recipient may not have (e.g. a working stove burner) But, for the people who have the will and capacity, I hope what I provide is truly nourishment in a difficult time.

ETA: When I say certain foods I donate may require certain cooking abilities, what I mean is people sometimes do not know how to boil pasta, drain canned fish, etc.


Edited by Sony (log)

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Most places here seem to prefer cans. I usually go for high-protein food-- I once scored a bunch of nice-looking Polish canned hams on discount-- along with canned soups, chili and/or stew. I avoid anything too idiosyncratic or "gourmet" in case it goes to a parent with picky kids or something, but I try to buy a decent version of whatever it is so it might be a bit of a treat.

I donate to a few specific local shelters, usually, and it's non-food stocking stuffer type stuff, like socks, toothbrushes, decks of cards, lip balm, hair ties, tiny toys, key chains, sewing kits, etc.

If you travel, and collect small-sized soaps, shampoos etc. along the way, the shelters around here, at least, love those.

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I usually buy lots of baby food, fruit roll-ups, peanut butter, soups and stews.


Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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The food pantry in my town accepts nothing in glass jars. However, it does accept fresh veggies & fruit--and the Master Gardeners in the area have set up some raised beds on the property of the food pantry. Low income people who want to grow some fresh veggies in the beds sign up and a few Master Gardeners are around to offer help & assistance if it's needed (I think seeds & perhaps some starts may be donated). Another garden on BLM land (I think a few MGs & kids run that one) donates much of its produce to the food pantry. The food pantry also offers a summer meal program for low income kids--otherwise some of them would have less to eat during the summer then they do during the school year.

There are usually several (or more) food drives during the year--the local post office helps with two of them--a plastic bag is left in your box and your mail carrier will (supposedly)pick up the filled bag on a given date, if it's left by your mailbox. Except that for the past two years, my mail carrier hasn't, so I've had to drop off the bag at the post office or, if I have time when the pantry's open, directly to the food pantry.

I try to buy stuff on sale at the local natural foods co-op during the year--so if I give boxes of mac & cheese, it's a bit better quality, ditto canned chili, etc. I tend to give dried pasta, bags of rice, boxes of mac & cheese, & canned goods (veg, fruit, soup, chili) & cans of tuna. One year my small veg garden yielded a substantial potato surplus, so I took some potatoes to the food pantry.

A friend of mine, now deceased, used to donate a portion of his retirement income to the food pantry, so I try to send a check every year to the food pantry in his memory. The summer meal program seems particularly worthwhile. This fall our food pantry (like many others in the US) almost ran out of food/money. Fortunately, enough people & businesses came through w/donations to keep it going.

Slightly OT, I understand Congress is (finally!) considering increasing the amount of foodstamps (and increasing the qualifying level of income) and more veg/fruit/grain has been added to WIC foods.

azurite

azurite

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During the year I spent on unemployment about a decade ago, I got extremely familiar with the typical food pantry offerings where I was living (Seattle), and I can tell you there will be at least some food pantry patrons who, like me, would totally appreciate the occasional change of pace of foods a few steps above the mac-and-cheese and Chef Boyardee. Mind you, I took whatever was offered and was majorly grateful for being able to stretch that unemployment check--staples like potatoes, onions, rice and beans, plus some super-cheap soup meat etc. from the supermarket, and I had meals for a week. But man, was I ever glad whenever the pantry could give me some good-quality pasta or canned tomatoes or other ingredients with which I could do something a little nicer.

Having said that, food pantries do serve a wide variety of people with a wide variety of needs, from those with no cooking facilities (homeless/living in their cars, living in SRO hotels that forbid cooking) to those with some facilities but just down on their luck (i.e. unemployed/underemployed). So there's also a major need for the ready-to-eat/minimal cooking packaged products. Cans with poptop lids are especially nice for those who, sadly, don't even have a can opener to their name.

Another nice thought: donate some ethnic foods, condiments, etc. I bet somebody out there will be majorly grateful for a bottle of soy sauce or hot sauce (do check first, though, if there's a no-glass rule as already mentioned).

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I grocery shop once a week for a local women's shelter, under the auspices of my Unitarian Church. I've been doing it for 6 years now. The shelter faxes a list to the church office, I pick it and the money up, I shop and deliver.

It has been an education to me, this experience. Mostly, it's not my job to teach anybody in this situation. It's just enough to get them through it as best you can.

Send comfort food. These people need love and familiarity, not challenges like artichoke hearts, as good as they are. Ethnic foods are a great choice, too.

Send individualized packages of things where you can. As much as it cuts across the grain of my tree-huggin little heart, individualized packages makes for safer room mate relations, much as good fences make good neighbours.

Don't assume the shelter has anything in the way of equipment. Basic pots and pans, yes, but something as simple as a good knife can be hard to find. Kitchen time is often limited so as attractive and cheap as a nice big pot of soup can be, it's sometimes just not feasible. Send the tinned version.

FWIW. Obviously, this varies according to the situation to which one is donating.


“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”

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The students at my son's high school do two food drives per year. Halloween for Hunger and in May, during their 30 hour famine to raise money for world hunger awareness.

They usually ask for food items such as

dried pasta, canned spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, just about canned anything really. Peanut butter, baby food, canned soups etc. They always have a need for diapers and wet naps and other baby supplies as well.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I give cash to the food bank ..they get more bang for the buck than I can anywhere....


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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years ago when i was a library director each november we did "Food for Fines" where our patrons could either pay their fines in cash and the money would be donated to the two food pantries in town or pay their fines with non-perisable foods. this year the library i work in has partnered with a local association that works with indigent families to do the same thing. so far in about a month we have been able to give them about 2000.00 that they will use to buy fresh food as well as almost 500 lbs of groceries.

when i donate i tend to do toiletries(no mouthwash, though), diapers, toilet paper and paper towels - things that food stamps can not be used for.


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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"Feeding people is almost always a good thing to do" - haresfur

I don't worry much about whether or why the food bank customers need the food. The upside of a full belly is profound even if it just helps someone maintain until they get it together.

It's worth asking what the food bank needs most, but I also feel the need to give something within the bounds that satisfies me. I have settled, personally, on canned fruit in light syrup. It's healthy enough, perhaps a bit of a treat, and I hope it is palatable for many of the young and elderly who may have trouble maintaining nutrition.

...protein is good, too.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I periodically write a check to our food bank. I know there are a lot of matching funds from corporations so I hope any money I contribute gets matched. I also wonder if there isn't an additional cost in collecting, culling, organizing, accounting for, transporting and processing the donated foods because many food banks have established ongoing programs of food distribution and much of that is an efficient organized procurement program. Food Banks distribute 95% of the money and collections which is higher than most all charities.


Davydd

It is just an Anglicized Welsh spelling for David to celebrate my English/Welsh ancestry. The Welsh have no "v" in their alphabet or it would be spelled Dafydd.

I must warn you. My passion is the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Now blogging: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Blog

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proteins (tuna, chicken), canned fruit and vegetables and stuff thats pretty much a meal-in-the-can - soups, chili, pastas, etc.

I definitely make sure to get cans with the easy open tops, I think my local pantry actually requires this.

Also: shaving supplies, toothpaste, soap and other toiletries.

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Bumping this old thread up because of an excellent experience I had today. I volunteer with a soup kitchen that feeds anyone who shows up every Saturday; since the onset of the pandemic, it's been a sack lunch. The kitchen is a joint effort between my church and the Episcopal church down the street. We both support the local food pantry and a couple of other programs that feed folks, like the Salvation Army, Reclamation House, which is a halfway house for female offenders, and another church that holds food giveaways weekly.

 

Kroger has begun this spring and summer donating to us about-to-be-out-of-date bakery and deli items, as well as some meat and dairy. Today the usual pickup person couldn't get the Kroger donation, so I volunteered.

 

Y'all. I left Kroger with a shopping cart full of bakery items (breads, rolls, pastries, and seven or eight whole peach pies); two more carts full of deli items that included close to 10 pounds of sliced deli meat and cheese; at least a dozen roasted chickens; at least a dozen racks of ribs; more than a dozen meal kits; and a whole raft of fried chicken. Had I had the room, and had we had the room in the fridge at church, I could have had another cart full of deli salads (chicken, tuna, slaw, potato salad, etc.). 

 

Deli meat will be used to make sandwiches for tomorrow's soup kitchen. The rest will be dispensed before the weekend's out. The food isn't being wasted, and a few less people will be hungry for a day or two or three.

 

Any of you who are involved in feeding programs (I know @Kim Shook and Mr. Kim are), I encourage you to get in touch with the supermarkets in your area, especially if you have Kroger, and see if this is a possibility.

 

And as for food pantry donations -- we have a small box pantry at the church parking lot which we fill daily and people take what they need. One request we've had is for dry milk. I'd have never thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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Posted (edited)

Some friends work with a food bank through their church. They live in an old agricultural area and whenever they approach a homeowner about picking fruit they are welcomed to do so. Adds a healthy and welcome element to the offering. And this is Los Angeles - not the country.


Edited by heidih (log)
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The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which coordinates the five regional food banks (which in turn supply the many food pantries and other programs) has a Gleaners Project. Volunteers all over the state will go into a field or orchard after the main harvest is completed and get what's left, which will be distributed via the network of banks and pantries.  Last year, gleaners harvested about 50,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, among lots of other stuff.

 

Food banks are also set up with area "hobby farmers" to take excess from them that they don't sell at farmers markets, etc.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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My coworker who is a skilled bow hunter always takes some venison to a local food bank. He also had a private farm who asked him to take care of some critters, and he got to harvest tons of asian pears they didn’t want. You know they sell them at the supermarket for like $1-2 each...

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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1 hour ago, kayb said:

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which coordinates the five regional food banks (which in turn supply the many food pantries and other programs) has a Gleaners Project. Volunteers all over the state will go into a field or orchard after the main harvest is completed and get what's left, which will be distributed via the network of banks and pantries.  Last year, gleaners harvested about 50,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, among lots of other stuff.

 

I'm a big fan of Food Forward, an organization here in Southern California that performs similar gleaning activities in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  They used to be able to send out teams of volunteers to harvest backyard fruit.  With the virus, they are currently only sending 1 trained picker to residential locations though they can still send larger teams to glean from the agricultural fields.  

Per their website, Food Forward staff and volunteers rescue over 500,000 pounds of surplus produce each week from fruit trees, farmers markets and the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market for donation to over 1800 hunger relief agencies across 8 counties in Southern California.

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All it takes is some entity to coordinate it, and volunteers willing to gather it. Most farmers would much rather give stuff away to those who need it rather and see it rot. 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Also when my son was working at our Farmers Market (managing the EBT type funds)  - at end of day they donated the produce  through him food to recovery homes in the area. Many were training the folks there in the food industry so it was well used.

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