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Old 11-12-2007, 12:20 PM
Location: Maine
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One thing that is usually in short supply is protien items, (aside from canned baked beans yuck). I buy the good tuna, white albacore in water when it's on sale ten at a time and bring that to the pantry. Also canned chicken is a good one. While I know it's not quite the best thing for everyone, Spam goes over well also.
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Old 11-12-2007, 02:06 PM
Location: Penobscot Bay, the best place in Maine!
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This is the same exact list I have posted for 3 years on every board I frequent. I'm sure some of it is repeating the PP's, but it's easier to just paste the whole thing. )

Now that the holidays are bearing down upon us, I'm sure many of you have begun to think about making a donation to you local food pantry/food cupboard/food bank (whatever you want to call it!), and time for me to think about posting my annual list of dos and don'ts and things to think about when making donations. Much of this list is cut and pasted from last years post, but more has been added and I'm sure it doesn't hurt to hear it again. (For those that don't know, I teach nutrition and healthy living practices to famiiles and individuals who have limited income and resources. I also work closely with area food banks.)

I encourage you to cut and paste this list to any on-line community that you think will welcome it, as well as print and distribute to other groups that may find it helpful (if your church or school is asking for donations for a food basket..)

And as always, check with your local food bank to make sure that some of the non-food things would be welcomed, as well as specifically ask if there are foods that would be more welcomed than others. I'm sure that the needs of people in Florida or California might vary slightly from those here in Maine!

Things that are always in great surplus (think twice before giving them more of) :
canned beans: baked/kidney/black
tomato sauces
canned peas
stewed tomatoes
high-salt canned soups

And things which are never taken when offered:
dried beans/peas
dried/powdered milk
things that are unusual and/or take a lot of time or other ingredients to prepare.

Some things that would be very valuable/appreciated to donate (most of which you can't buy with food stamps, so even more appreciated when you have no cash either):
-decent diapers
-garbage bags
-$1 (20 minute) phone cards
-toilet paper
-dish soap
-laundry soap
-multi-purpose cleaner
-bar body soap
-basic (way generic- dollar store) OTC meds, but childrens stuff in particular- baby tylenol, childrens cold medicine. Though I'm sure that the adults could probably also use it, I know more that will ask for it for their children- an adult can suck it up and suffer through a cold or headache a lot better than a child! No asprin, though, and nothing with alcohol or sedatives (no Benedryl-type stuff).
-Bandaids and 3-in-1 creme/ointment as well.
-Dry pet food(I know this suggestion will get some negative thoughts, but I'm putting it down anyway!)

Also consider:
diabetic foods (there has been a HUGE increase in the number of senior citizens that are having to rely on food banks)
low-salt foods (especially soups, crackers, vegetables)
basic spices (garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cinnamon, salt, pepper)
canned coffee
canned tuna in water (I would also say solid white tuna would be best, but then we get into the mercury content thing. I know most of my clients would take the chunk light... and feed it to the cat. )
spice packages (taco seasonings, etc)
canned fruit in water (not syrup)
dried fruit
cake/bread box mixes that don't require eggs (angel food cake, others)

And as always, a delayed donation of your time and/or resources may be the best donation of all. Ask about volunteering to stock shelves during July or August. One of the pantry managers I work with once said that she wished that people would realize that the hungry are still hungry after the winter ends. I like that thought a lot.

And again, these are just some thoughts- if anyone else want to add or object to this list, feel free!

On a related note, there are some organizations here that donate one item per month (from all of it's members), which they have previously discussed with the pantry to determine need- ie- each member of the X church is asked to donate one can of fruit in November, one can of tuna in December or whatever works for the pantry and organization. I think I see more donations when the people know what to donate, and the pantries are able to fill in gaps that they can't afford to fill, but are aware of.
Also from another board:
May I add a few items to your list? Here's what "my" food pantry always needs:

baby wipes


multi-vitamins (children/adult)

jarred baby food/boxed baby cereals

pancake mix

oatmeal (instant/make with water type)

dry breakfast cereals (healthy varieties)

canned chicken, SPAM

canned beef stew, canned chili (meat and beans)

Chunky soups (low sodium preferred)


Parmalat boxed milk

paper towels


I've recently had a larger number of food requests for low sodium, diabetic, low calorie and/or vegetarian/vegan diets. I am a vegetarian and make certain that I always donate my favorite foods like vegetarian chili and soups.
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Old 11-12-2007, 02:09 PM
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Great lists Deerislesmile!

Personal hygiene items are always in great demand and frequently overlooked.
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Old 11-12-2007, 02:18 PM
Location: Maine
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Thank You Deer!! That's a great list.
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Old 11-12-2007, 05:37 PM
Location: On the water in Maine =)
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GREAT post, Deer...and thank you!
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Old 11-12-2007, 05:40 PM
Location: West Michigan
12,085 posts, read 32,307,238 times
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DeerIsland I have given out too much rep today. But your post I will get back to tomorrow. That is a great list that is much needed not only this time of year, but year around.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:34 AM
Location: Gary, WV & Springfield, ME
5,826 posts, read 8,285,107 times
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Don't forget boullion cubes or granules. It's inexpensive and is the base for so many things from stock to broth to gravy to soups and stews.

Peanut butter. Thanks to the rising cost of peanuts, this is almost getting to be too expensive to buy.
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:39 AM
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Not sure about donating baby food. I used to volunteer at Good Shepherd Food Bank, which is the only food bank in Maine and supplies food to all the food pantries. Anywho, baby food was not allowed to be given out. It had to be thrown away. I would check with your local pantry about it. Also check on which cold meds are acceptable. Urge your local stores to donate if they do not already do so.
Money donations are always gladly accepted, as are donations of your time.
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Old 02-09-2008, 08:09 AM
Location: Maine
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Our food bank recently took a donation of cans and bottles. Someone had a deceased loved ones garage full of bagged cans they had collected, they them wanted removed and called the Pastor. They were happy to take the returnables.
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Old 02-09-2008, 11:05 AM
Location: 43.55N 69.58W
3,231 posts, read 6,419,119 times
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This is a great thread, it's such a hard time of year in Maine for so many people.
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