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What to donate to the food bank?

Our office building collects donations for our local (Los Angeles) food bank.

Can anyone who works or volunteers at a food bank tell me what would be most appreciated? I would prefer to buy nutrious and unprocessed items that might not be available through larger corporate donations? Flats of canned fruit perhaps?

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  1. Hi Judi,

    I volunteer at our local foodbank and this time of year we're working on providing families with Christmas hampers filled with the basic non-perishables that we always offer but also Christmas dinner. Because foodbanks have good "buying power" they can usually turn a $10 donation into $40 worth of food which helps them buy perishable items like turkeys, or milk, or fresh produce for instance. Most foodbanks have websites that'll have "wish lists" posted so you can get an idea of things they are most in need of. If not, you can always give them a call.

    Tonight is my night to volunteer, and to give you an idea, we'll be packing upwards of 150-200 hampers with: juice, soup, beans, canned tuna, cereal, canned tomatoes, canned veggies/fruit, peanut butter, processed cheese spread, pasta and tomato sauce.

    There's also a baby hamper for clients with infants which includes formula(with iron) and jars of baby food.

    Hope that gives you some ideas - I know the foodbank will appreciate your efforts whether you donate food, money or time :)

    1. Baby food/diapers/etc. are always needed where I volunteer. Baking and cooking supplies, too--we receive little flour, sugar, oil, vanilla, seasonings, etc and people are always asking for it (I'd say things you find yourself using a lot are things that don't get donated often). Ethnic foods. Gift cards for grocery stores. Other than that, I'd call ahead to ask. It's feast or famine and there's no rhyme or reason to it sometimes. There have been times when I've had to throw out garbage bags of perfectly good bread because we had too many for our shelves (I called around different shelters and no one could use them--apparently many grocery stores over-ordered then) and other times when we're scrounging for bread. It's the same for different canned goods, pasta, etc. Oh, and cleaning supplies are always in demand.

      1. soup, canned tomatoes, noodles, pb, rice, baby food.

        please, for the love of god, anything but canned kidney beans--one house dh lived in had an entire cupboard of canned kidney beans, as about 10 people in the house got food bank boxes! even the vegans wouldn't touch them!

        1. When I volunteered at a food bank, they were always short of non-perishable proteins, such as tuna, peanut butter, even spam.

          I'll make the assumption that in LA you will have a large population of Hispanics using the food bank, so I'd second the recommendation of ethnic foods.

          I'd also see if they are collecting specifically for a Christmas themed delivery--stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, etc. if that's the case; and if they accept non-perishables or not.

          1. The current list at the local food bank is:

            Items most needed are:

            Canned Chicken
            Powdered Milk
            Canned Tuna
            Saltine Crackers
            Soups
            Juices
            White Rice
            Jarred or Canned Spaghetti Sauce
            Grape Jelly
            Canned Vegetables
            Breakfast Cereals
            Pork & Beans
            Peanut Butter
            Macaroni & Cheese

            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              There seems to be a generic list of what pantries always need--it doesn't matter where we move, it seems like those things always pop up.

              One thing I just thought of is juice or milk boxes. We rarely get those and often get requests for them. Also, things to pack in lunches for the kids--individually packed applesauce, granola bars, etc.