With Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching, many families like to get into the season by donating to their local food banks. Food can drives and other charity programs are a common part of the holiday season when many people are feeling more generous, grateful, and charitable. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I worked as a youth minister, and our youth group assisted with organization and distribution at the local food bank. I grew up giving to food banks, but after several years of serving the poor, I’ve learned quite a few surprising facts about food banks and donation needs.
Some Surprising Facts about Food Donations:
Most people donate the boxed Kraft macaroni and cheese, but many families that utilize food banks do not have regular access to the milk and butter needed to prepare the mix. Consider purchasing the Deluxe version instead, which requires no additional ingredients.
Many people donate cereal, but without boxed milk, children will need to eat their cereal dry.
When purchasing canned fruits, veggies, soups, prepared foods, and meats, look for cans with pop lids. Many families don’t have can openers at home.
Rice-a-Roni, and others like it, requires oil to be prepared.
Boxed Hamburger Helper is only helpful if the families can get fresh beef, which they often can’t do.
Packages of tuna and chicken are both shelf-stable ways to help families get protein into their diets.
Many families don’t have salt and pepper in their homes.
Many refrigerated fruits, such as fruit cups and applesauce, also come in a shelf-stable version.
Boxed cake mixes with frosting help families celebrate their children’s birthdays (try to find mixes that do not require extra ingredients such as eggs, milk, or butter).
Tea bags and coffee are real treats that most adults, and especially parents, appreciate.
Food banks are always happy to accept people’s donations, but it’s also helpful to remember that most food banks (and the families they serve) have limitations. Most food banks don’t have enough refrigerator space to hold onto donations of eggs, milk, fresh fruits and veggies, and meat. And many of the families they serve don’t have regular access to those things as well.
As you prepare to donate to your local food bank this holiday season, shop with these surprising facts in mind!
What are some ways that your family can practice generosity and gratitude this holiday season?
About Shannon Whitmore
Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and working in youth ministry. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.