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May 11, 2005 11:18 AM

Spice It Up

  • m

On collecting some food for a local soup kitchen and food pantry, I was surprised to find out that things the pantry really needed included spices and seasonings: dill, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, thyme, and so on.

Of course it makes sense: herbs and spices are expensive, and a lot of those great pantry staples--cans of protein foods (beans and canned chicken, turkey, hams, soups, and stews)--certainly could use a little perking up. Just by asking a local store, I got three cases of spices donated to the food drive. (I don't say that to pat my own back but to inspire donations.)

In the tristate area--and everywhere else, for that matter--people really rely on the pantries because so much of their salaries go toward rent.

This time of year and in summer the pantries start running low, so when I drop off stuff from time to time, I'm going to include some seasonings. The other thing I'll do is to make some sandwiches when I deliver the canned goods. Sometimes mid-morning or mid-afternoon, people are there already, having missed breakfast or lunch at the soup kitchen. And they're hungry.


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  1. I've often thought this would be a good idea but have never acted on it. Thanks for the push. A good way to share stuff I buy in too-large quantities.

    1. A volunteer told me, they also need baby food. I have been donating powdered and premixed formula.

      1. On a related note, our the Houston Food Bank has said they can do more with $20 cash than any amount of donated food.

        They buy in bulk.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MidtownCoog

          The Food Bank in our area holds several fundraising events throughout the year, from food and wine tastings to fashion shows and golf tournaments and need volunteers all the time. I will never forget that day after work when I went to a food and wine event at the shopping center. I was in my black tights and minidress smashing garbage in the can with my 4" heel shoes (so it would hold more until they could get another bag). I looked up when I was done to see one of the restauranteers (the cutest and ##*&$& etc etc etc., and I would marry him in a second forever!) was talking on his cell phone sitting there staring at what I was doing. And, a shopping center attendant soon arrived to change the bag. Oiy - the man!

          Certainly, do all you can do with what you have when you can. Bless you, too.

          1. re: kc girl

            Now that is an interesting visual.

            Oiy - me

        2. Very good! Our church conducts food drives 4 times per year and we give out a list of basic non-perishables (attached to a paper grocery bag) that the local shelters have requested and then we take the food back in the following week and it goes to the food bank/shelter. One woman said she lets her 12 year old son shop for the items...he usually will choose one or two items to jazz it up, which is so cute. This spice idea is also a great idea for jazzing up basic foods for hungry people and non-perishable also.

          1. I only buy spices in bulk these days (30 cents versus >$3.00 for the same amount of oregano!) I doubt that a food pantry would accept that though, as it's not a sealed package. Too bad, because the quality is also so much better...

            3 Replies
            1. re: Chris VR

              Most drug stores and Wal-Mart sell containers of spices for between 33 and 99 cents. The quality is the same as those $3-$4 containers in supermarkets (maybe not as good as the bulk spices though). This is how I usually stock up...

              1. re: deibu

                Good point. There is a brand of spices called Tones that sells their spices for around $.99 a container.

                1. re: Tracy L.

                  Great ideas. Thank you. Around here, and perhaps nationwide, the mail carriers are collecting for food banks this Saturday. Will take a trip to one of the drugstores and stock up before then.