living a well tended life... at any age

what food banks really need – and not so much

Though food banks and shelters need donations all year round, there is no doubt that the holidays are a particularly difficult time of year (especially in colder climates).

My friend Sara shared this article last week and it struck SUCH a chord with me. We have recently gotten involved with Family-to-Family,  and as Noah and I were shopping for supplies I kept thinking, “Is this what they really need/want? Is there anything I’m missing?”.

what food banks really need

This article covered it all – really well. I printed it out and have copies in both cars so that I can pull the list out whenever I’m at the store.

I also scrolled through the comments and have added these additional (excellent) suggestions:

Cash or checks – this one came up the most. Food banks can stretch your dollar as much as three times via  government programs. Also, they can use money to buy large quantities of the most needed items, rather than having to rely on volunteers to sort and organize the random items that are donated.

Food in easy to open pouches – dried beef, tuna, squeezable baby food fruits. Pop-top cans too.

Pet food and supplies – needed all year long.

Inexpensive manual can openers – imagine the horror of living under a bridge or in a motel and not being able to break into that can of chili or stew.

Bags of individually wrapped silverware  – from your take-out order.

The personal size toiletries found in hotel rooms – also the toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste you receive from the dentist.

Laundry detergent, hand wipes, baby wipes and toilet paper – always lacking in most food pantries.

Individual treats for children – boxes of raisins, mini candy bars, individually packaged cookies and snacks.

Allergy-friendly foods – Dairy-, gluten- and peanut-free options are in shockingly low supply.

Low-sodium foods – also low-sugar and sugar-free items.

Baby formula and baby food  so expensive and always needed.

Food in plastic jars   food items have been handled multiple times by the time they reach the recipient. Glass jars are more prone to breakage than plastic. Plastic is also lighter, making it easier to transport.

Dried fruits  while fresh produce is obviously ideal, it is sadly not readily available. And as refrigeration is often not an option, fresh fruit is not always practical. Shelf-stable dried fruit is a nice alternative.

Re-usable shopping bags – we all have too many, and these are much appreciated for carrying food sometimes a very long way (and often via public transportation).

Please share this with your friends and family, and feel free to use the comments section to add suggestions of your own.

Thank you so much.


  1. Kelly Ann on April 13, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    This is a great list ! I run a Food Pantry in Buffalo , NY and the list is spot on! Thanks for posting and reminding folks how simple it can be to donate !

    • sherisilver on April 14, 2018 at 8:20 am

      I am so glad to hear that – thank you for writing; this made my day! 🙂

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