What’s Needed at Food Banks

charitable organizations

The holiday season through the end of the year is when many charitable organizations are seeking donations. It’s also when many people want to support organizations whose missions they especially believe in.

One of my favorite organizations is Globe Santa and I’ve supported them for decades. They deliver holiday gifts to children in need. All children should feel the joy and delight of receiving at least one gift of their own.

Many of us also support food banks. I read an interesting post on LinkedIn written by Marco T. Lindsey about what people really need at food banks. His list started a conversation in the comments that also gave some good ideas. I didn’t read all of the comments, but I’ve noted some takeaways below.

MONEY: Money is the best thing to give. Food banks can best decide what they need. They need the means to buy it and may have discounted rates for purchases.

ASK: If you’d rather not give a monetary donation, look at the organization’s website and see if they have a list of particular items that they need. You could also contact them directly to find out what they need right now. The website list could possibly be out of date.

WASTE: A lot of donated food goes to waste and cannot be used. If it’s expired, it will be thrown away. One thing that I was surprised to learn when I volunteered at a food bank was that dented cans were thrown away. If a can was dented, then the integrity of the can was in question and the food might not be safe. I’m not sure if that is still the case or if all food banks abide by this rule, but it’s something to keep in mind.

One comment, shown below, that I found particularly insightful was by Sheila Freeman.

“As someone who has worked and volunteered for nonprofit organizations for over twenty years, there is one thing from your list you left off. Food banks only allow people/families to get food that will last for a week once a month, no exception. If you have kids they will eat this food in one day. The other thing heard staff who run these ministries say “if these people are hungry, they should take what we give them.” People who donates food have no ideal these are the policies in place when serving those in the communities. Another issue is these speciality bread shops give bread, a good variety in the donation, and anyone that buys it knows it is expensive but the food pantries throws away because it’s not bagged to last long, so much of it goes into the trash.”

I’m not sure that what she says applies to all food banks, but apparently at least some of them. And that makes sense that the bagged bread might end up going to waste.

It’s such a shame. Food waste is a huge problem in this country. It’s a double shame that so many people are in need of food at the same time that it is being thrown away.