I run a food pantry at my church. There is another, larger food pantry in our town as well. The larger food pantry serves over 100 people each week and they are allowed to come in once a month.

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The number of people we serve is higher in the winter. People that work seasonal jobs don’t get work in the winter.

When people come in the food pantry I serve at, each one of them sits down with another volunteer for a few minutes. We get to know these people. We don’t just hand them their food and send them out the door. We learn their story. We offer them hope. We pray with them & for them.

This past week many people I met with were in tears. Sadness creeps in like a blanket threatening to smother people around the holidays. We try to ease the burden of hunger for these families.

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There are numerous food drives. The Boy Scout drive is coming up this weekend. The question is—what are the best things to donate?

DON’T USE A FOOD DRIVE AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET THE STUFF YOU DONT WANT OUT OF YOUR CABINETS.   I say that lightly. Think about the people that visit food pantries. What we give them may be the only food they get that week. If it has been sitting in your cabinet for a year & you never ate it, is that what you would offer to someone that has nothing?  Don’t use a Boy Scout or post office food drive as an opportunity to get rid of all that gross stuff no one in your house will eat.

WHAT ARE THE MOST DONATED CANNED GOODS? 

Green Beans and Pineapple. I’m not sure why but most food pantries have an abundance of those two things. I would encourage you to think of other things to donate. We try to offer these families a little variety if we can.

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What are some good things to donate? 

Canned Meat–Tuna or Chicken is always good.

Canned Pasta–The cans that don’t need a can opener are best. Some people are living in their cars or a cheap hotel and don’t have a can opener.

Mixed Fruit–Look for ones that are low in sugar. Most of these families can’t afford to eat healthy. Try to avoid canned pie filling, cranberries, & pineapple. These are commonly donated items.

Veges–look for mixed vegetables or canned potatoes. Your local pantry will probably have lots of corn & green beans. Try to add variety to their shelves.

Breakfast foods–this is always a need because most people donate canned goods. Consider a box of cereal, pop tarts, or breakfast bars.

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I guess the real answer is donate what you can. Most of the people we serve are greatful for anything we give them. I just wanted to give you some ideas of what is often a need.

Put a box or bag in the bottom of your pantry. Every time you go shopping, pick up two extra things. When the box or bag is full, donate it!

Also—consider donating your time. Contact your local food pantry and see if they need help on distribution day. Or possibly another day with restocking shelves, sorting food, etc.

Everyone doing a little can change a lot!