What Food Banks Want You to Donate

When you’re donating to a food bank, you want your contribution to truly help someone in need. Make your donation go the extra mile by considering these items food banks really want, as suggested by Feeding America®.

1. Nutritious staples

Canned goods are great, especially vegetables with low sodium or fruit in light syrup.

Foods such as canned goods, rice, pasta, and beans are always in need. Up the nutrition factor by looking for non-perishables such as low sodium canned veggies and natural peanut butter, says Sari Vatske, Executive Vice President of Feeding South Florida.

2. Whole grains

Little girl eating cereal

“We really want to aim for nutritious food,” says Vatske. “Many of these items are going to children, and we want to make sure they grow up strong. We want to break the cycle of obesity in poverty.” Think whole-grain cereals, oats, brown rice, and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices.

Also, she says parents often are happy to see snacks such as nuts or trail mix at food banks.

3. Culturally appropriate foods

Volunteers at a food bank

“Think about the cultural mix of your community when you donate,” says Vatske. Certain cultures prefer certain foods. For example, she says that in South Florida, black beans and tortillas are in high demand. If you’re not sure, call your local food bank to see if there are culturally appropriate foods in your area that are needed.

4. Kid supplies

Baby diapers

“Families definitely have a much larger need than those without younger children,” Vatske says. “They may require non-food items such as formula or diapers, which tend to eat into the household budget.”

5. Packaged meats

Canned tuna

Choose proteins that don’t need refrigeration until after they’ve been opened. “Canned chicken, canned tuna, and packets of tuna are great ways to donate meat or protein,” Vatske says.

6. Money

When you donate $1 to Feeding America®, you provide at least 10 meals to people in need. “The extent to which your donation stretches is pretty incredible,” says Vatske. “Keep in mind that spending $2 on a can of soup will feed one person but donating $2 to the food bank may feed even more.”

If you’re making a cash donation, consider doing so in the summer. “Kids are out of school and they don’t have access to free or reduced-price meals,” Vatske says. “That’s two more meals per child per day that families have to provide.”

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