There was a point in our lives we needed a local food bank to get by. One thing we found was always in short supply was healthy food items at the food bank. Here’s how we all can make a difference.
Our Experience with Needing a Food Bank
What many of you don’t know is there was a point in our lives where we needed food banks to get by. We had unexpected expenses, were in college, and I was between jobs. We didn’t qualify for Food Stamps. I won’t lie. It was a rough and mortifying place to be in. One thing that stood out to me even then was that we had very few options for healthy food at the food bank.
Don’t get me wrong. We were grateful to have food, but it did open my eyes to making sure that I donate healthier staples when I donate to my local food bank.
The meat was government supplemented frozen ground beef in tubes and, quite honestly, it was gross. It was the lowest quality burger I had ever seen and I grew up on 73% lean. There were no fresh or even frozen vegetables. Canned vegetables that were high in sodium, and fruit, oftentimes in syrup, were the only option. Boxed meals were in high supply. It didn’t exactly create the healthiest meal but at least we didn’t starve. It was food on our plates and in our stomachs.
[Tweet “It’s easy to feel helpless with so much need. Poverty, brokenness, hunger…It seems daunting… but here’s how we can help.”]
How can we make a difference in our community?
It’s easy to feel helpless when we see so much need around us – poverty, brokenness, hunger, homelessness. The problems seem daunting and insurmountable, and they are. They are if we all just look at it as individuals. I can’t solve all a broken world’s problems. I can’t be the answer on my own, but together we can. One small act by every person can change the world if we all just band together and do what we can. All it takes is action.
There are so many things we can do to help make a difference. If we stop leaving it to the government to fix and step up to be the difference in our communities we can change the world one person at a time.
Don’t miss the handy printable of healthier food items to donate to the food pantry at the end of this post. Print it and take it to the grocery store for an easy buying guide.
Here are practical ways we can make a difference for local food banks.
One of the practical ways every single one of us who is self-sustaining can help is by donating to our local food banks. A simple search for ‘food banks in ________’ will give you the information you need.
One of the best ways to donate can be to give money to your local food bank. Many times they have access to buy food at a heavily discounted rate that we as consumers do not have. Donating money allows them to stretch the dollar even farther. Per Feeding America, they can distribute 10 meals for $1. You can see their link for how they do that. I certainly can’t stretch one dollar into 10 meals. While your local food bank may or may not be able to do the same, they can stretch the money farther than we can with access to buying programs, etc.
If you want to donate food rather than money, you don’t need to spend a lot to make a difference. Even if you have limited resources, a can of tuna fish can help someone. What if each time you grocery shop you buy 1 extra can of tuna fish, pasta sauce, or box of pasta? If you up-size that just a little, what if you took $5 of your grocery money and bought for your local food bank instead?
Ideas for making room in the budget to donate to the local food bank
- Take $5 of your grocery money and buy staples for a local food bank.
- Cut the coffee. If you buy drinks or lunch out, cut one a week and use that money buy food for the food bank.
- “Buy an extra.” Buy an extra box of pasta, peanut butter, tuna fish, cereal, etc. and donate it.
- Set aside $1 each week for a local food bank.
- Host a Food Drive. Ask each person to donate a few cans or boxes. Share the printable list at the bottom of this post for an easy guide.
People have told me they would love to donate but never know what to give and they don’t want to donate heavily processed or unhealthy foods. Honestly, the answer is simple. Look in your cabinets. What do you eat that is shelf stable?
Yes, there are food banks than accept refrigerated, frozen, and fresh products but you need to speak with your individual food bank about what they accept. They all have different guidelines or abilities for storing.
See below for practical dry food staples you can donate to your local food bank and a handy printable guide.
Here’s a handy guide to practical and/or healthy food staples you can donate to your local food bank.
Breakfast Foods to Donate
- Whole Grain Cereal
- Rolled Oats
- Pancake Mix
- Baby Cereal
Lunch and Dinner Foods to Donate
- Tuna Fish
- Canned Chicken
- Peanut Butter
- No-Nut Butter
- Whole grain pasta
- Brown Rice
- Canned Beans
- Dry Beans
- Canned Vegetables (low sodium/no salt)
- Canned Fruit (light syrup/in own juices)
- Pasta Sauce
- Dry Goods – Sugar, Flour, Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Spices
- Baby Food
Snack Foods to Donate
- Dry Fruit
- Granola Bars
- Whole Grain Crackers
- Trail Mix
Fresh Foods to “Ask Before You Take”
- Fresh Vegetables
- Fresh Fruit
- Frozen Vegetables
Just a note: You can ‘clean out your cabinets’ and donate and some food banks are able to use food after it is expired but think Golden Rule. Would you want someone to give YOU their expired food? It’s better than wasting it, but be gracious and loving.
Click the image below to print this handy guide of healthy items to donate to your local food bank.
Do food expenses stress you out? Here is my series on ways you can cut the budget and live on $29/per person per week. In just a few weeks I am starting a new series with practical ways you can start reducing your grocery budget even more.