Even though the need is constant throughout the year, it seems like attention is often focused on food shelves and food banks during the fall and winter season.  This is often when those agencies see the greatest spike in use.

While the easy answer to "what do food shelves need for donations" is "everything" - there are certain food products that tend to get overlooked when donations are made.  It seems like everyone donates canned goods, peanut butter, dry-boxed goods, and the like;  But what specific items tend to get overlooked by donors?

Here is a list of donation ideas that are "off-the-beaten-path" but very much appreciated:

  • Sweets/Chocolates.  While they may not be a necessity, these treats are often left off of donation lists and might provide a smile for a younger child in the family of need.
  • Baby Items.  Necessary items like diapers and wipes, formula, even pacifiers and accessories can be expensive.  Often, families that are utilizing food shelf programs have young or infant children.
  • Toiletries/Over-The-Counter Medicines.  Soap.  Deodorant.  Toothpaste.  Antacid.  Band-Aids.  First-aid items.  Aspirin.
  • Feminine Products.  Much like baby items, feminine products are a necessity that can be expensive.
  • Crackers.  The shelf life on items like crackers can be extended and they make a good item that helps stretch a food budget and meal plan.  Add cheese and/or meat and you have a nutritious meal.
  • Spices.  It's amazing what a little salt or pepper or even something like thyme and rosemary can do to make food taste better.
  • Dry Soup Packets.  While it seems like everyone donates cans of soup, dried envelopes of soup can also be put to good use.
  • Out-of-the-ordinary Canned Fruits and Vegetables.  It seems like everyone donates corn, beans, and pineapple.  Why not change things up and donate asparagus, squash, plums, and canned pie filling?
  • Socks/Underwear.  Everyone needs them and food shelves don't see a lot of these items being donated.

Click here for source material and more ideas.


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