Sunday, December 22, 2013

10 Awesome Things to Donate to the Food Bank

1. Spices and Seasoning Packets

Having to live on bland basic staples because you can't afford more is hard. Having to live bland basic staples without spices is worse. One can vary a simple fare of beans and rice quite a bit with a change of seasonings. Spices can make all the difference between a thrifty life and a miserable one. 

When you buy your favorite spices, grab another one to donate. I tend to center around cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and the occasional oregano. I have a love affair with paprika--maybe someone else does, too. I don't use soup packets but many people do. If you are one of those, grab two and donate one.

2. Baby Stuff

Babies need tons of stuff, but only people with babies think about that. Diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, tear-free shampoo, bottles (both linerless and liner styles). Everything helps, and food stamps don't cover diapers.

3. Feminine Products

Pads, tampons, panty liners. People don't like to think about these, so they never get donated. These are cheap to pick up, especially if you coupon. They don't spoil, so you can buy large quantities in bulk. Instead of buying the cheapest brand you can find, consider donating a pack of the ones you use. 

Also, consider donating reusable forms of these products. Cloth pads are not so overwhelming as cloth diapering can be, and a gift of reusable pads can keep a woman supplied for a long time.

4. Toiletries

Deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toilet paper. I always try to donate toilet paper. Again, it's one of those products people don't like to think about, so they don't donate it. 

Those little bottles of free shampoo from hotels are nice, but they don't go far and are hard to use. Remember how annoying it was to have to hit it against your hand until you had a little ring on your palm in order to get enough out to wash your hair? Yeah. Try to donate full-sized bottles.

5. Protein Sources

Beans are awesome. Beans and rice form a very complete protein complex. But beans can't save the world alone. Try donating canned meat, but not the meat that is more chemicals than food. Tuna, chicken, natural beef jerky. 

6. Fruit Sources

Like not pineapple or fruit cocktail (*shudder*). Applesauce, peaches, pears. They are a great source of vitamins, but because pineapple is cheaper most people won't donate it. Pineapple is extremely high in sugar and really gets old after a while. 

7. Crackers, Tortillas, and Cereal.

These go fast and tend to be cheap for the calories.

8. Socks and Underwear

If you shop at thrift stores often, you realize that socks and underwear can't be found there. And they are relatively expensive, even at Wal-Mart. I buy socks to send to soldiers overseas, but they are needed here in the states, too. 

9. Something fun

People are always quick to judge someone on food stamps who buys cookies, cakes, or soda, but stop and think. People on food stamps have kids with birthdays, too. They may have just gotten through a rough week or gotten a new job or just want to unwind with something special. Cake mixes, cookie mixes, chocolate bars, and candy are always appreciated. 

10. Allergen-Free foods

Gluten-free grain products can be hard to find at grocery stores. They are nearly impossible to find at food banks. Consider buying gluten-free Bisquick or Tinkyada gluten-free macaroni. And gluten-free cookies might be someone's gift from heaven. 

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