Fortunate folks often forget how much they have. It’s perfectly understandable, as it’s human nature to take things for granted. However, even with that fact in mind, we should do our best to be thankful and take the time to walk in others’ shoes.
Can you imagine going without food for a prolonged time? Maybe you have experienced this on a short-term basis, like rushing off to work in the morning without getting the chance to eat a proper breakfast. Your stomach probably growled all the way until lunchtime, making the meal taste that much better.
You may think that only survivalists living off the grid would face the challenge of going without food for days on end, but the truth of the matter is that people in your city or town face this struggle every day. A study by the USDA in 2021 found that nearly 34 million people experience food insecurity in the United States.
How can we help prevent the less fortunate from going hungry? Let’s look at everything to consider before making a food donation. Understanding the problem is the key to finding viable solutions.
Who Benefits From Food Donations?
Asking this important question is a major step in the right direction. You might think of the less fortunate first and foremost, which is correct and shows that your heart is in the right place.
Food contributions combat food insecurity, which is a major problem here, as mentioned in the USDA study. The USDA defines this as not having regular meals because of a severe shortage of food.
Folks who have fallen on hard times are diverse, and they are a part of your community. It’s important to understand there are multiple demographics, including:
- People experiencing homelessness
- Low-income families
- People who experience disabilities or a chronic illness
- Retired individuals who depend on Social Security
- Underprivileged youth
Grasping the differences between these people helps you understand how everyone needs help at certain points in their lives.
Donating Is Good You
While donations go a long way for the less fortunate, it’s important to realize how everyone benefits from charity. The people who receive the donations get necessary items to help them through the day, and the generous folks who make these contributions experience the joys of giving.
Many are aware of the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from giving. Outside of charity, people also experience this when they give gifts to friends and family.
The happiness associated with giving certainly inspires people to make donations. After all, there are only so many gift-giving occasions on the calendar. Giving to the less fortunate allows you to have the opportunity to experience this fuzzy feeling year-round.
In addition to happiness, giving has been proven to help mitigate stress, which makes it good for your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that this charitable act often lowers blood pressure, whether you donate or decide to volunteer.
Food Bank vs. Food Pantry
Food banks and food pantries are vital to the donation process. What are the differences between the two? Let’s look at how each functions to gain a better understanding of their roles.
- Much like a financial bank holds money, food banks keep a supply of food safe.
- They can be small or large nonprofits.
- They oversee distribution to food pantries and other helpful programs.
- You can donate directly to food banks.
- You can also volunteer.
- Similar to the pantry in your house, food pantries are where whole communities go for food.
- Many different types exist:
- Meals on Wheels delivers food directly to seniors.
- Schools and places of worship often have food pantries to help the less fortunate.
- Community and homeless centers also have these vital sites.
- Food pantries are usually smaller than food banks and service only a small segment of a local population.
To find local food banks and food pantries near you, perform a quick search online. You will find many who can use your help.
What Types of Food Can I Donate?
Food banks and pantries accept foods with long shelf lives. This typically means canned goods that don’t require any refrigeration. They also take dry foods.
It’s best to check with your local food bank to see what they want most, but generally you can count on the following to be useful donations:
- Granola bars
- Canned soup and stew
- Peanut butter
- Canned meat
- Canned fish
- Canned fruit and vegetables
Should I Avoid Donating Certain Types of Food?
As we mentioned, foods that need refrigeration aren’t the best candidates for donation. You should also refrain from donating anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself. This idea doesn’t apply to taste and preferences. Rather, if it has gone bad or the item has damaged packaging, you should not give it to food banks or pantries.
You also should not donate homemade food to these nonprofit organizations. While it’s very thoughtful to want to bring a warm dinner or baked goods, these dishes have short shelf lives.
To consider helping in an active way, try volunteering at a food bank, pantry, or soup kitchen!
Other Helpful Items Charities Need
In addition to giving food, people who are less fortunate benefit from many other types of donations. There are plenty of toiletries and other self-care items we use daily that we likely think very little about, seeing as they are always available.
People who have fallen on hard times need these items, too. Donating these will assist folks with essential functions and improve their overall situation. Remember, every little bit helps.
Here are some helpful items that make a difference:
- Laundry detergent
- Toilet paper
- Feminine products
- Body wash
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Consider Donating Wholesale Items
Did you know most of the items mentioned are available in wholesale hygiene kits?
You can streamline the donation process by acquiring these in bulk and giving those to various charities and nonprofit organizations. This saves you time, seeing as you don’t have to purchase all the components separately, and allows you to make an incredible impact.
We encourage you to go beyond hygiene kits. You might want to donate wholesale drawstring bags, for example. An item like this comes in handy since it allows folks to easily carry the toiletries we just mentioned, as well as their personal belongings.
Consider giving wholesale items to make the most of your donation. After all, purchasing them at such a low cost lets you help on a large scale. You can buy food and nonfood items this way.
There are many factors to consider before making a food donation. While everything may seem like a challenge to remember, you have the power to help the less fortunate. Remember to check with your local nonprofits to see which items are in demand. Usually, canned goods and other nonperishables go a long way.
Giving is good for you and your community. Let’s do our best to fight food insecurity.