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What Did You Contribute?

So here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, it's time to contribute to the Boy Scouts Food Drive. I did my usual: pasta, canned tomatoes, black beans. Honestly, things I buy just for the sake of giving away.

But a few months ago I received a very rare Ecuadoran hot chocolate and expensive Ecuadorean coffee beans. I donated both. OK or not?

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  1. We used to be Scout leaders and our troop collected a lot in our community. But then (long after our Scouting days) I learned that local food banks can do a lot more with a money donation, rather than handling an odd collection of food goods. So these days we give money.

    1. Here are a couple of threads about donations :-)



      I'm sure someone would be thrilled to receive that in their box of food!

      1. I give cash. I've worked as a volunteer for various causes over the years. While can food drives are helpful, I sometimes think these have more to do with making the giver feel good rather than helping the receivers. Volunteers will be taking in the goods and sorting through them trying to come up with boxes of various items that people who are in need can use. Basic food items are easy to deal with. I know you meant wells but if I was packing boxes and came across your hot chocolate and coffee beans, I'd be stuck and wonder what the heck am I going to do with these? Coffee beans? Ground coffee I could deal with but how do I know that the person who receives this box will even have a coffee grinder? I suppose some food pantries are set up differently, but most of the ones ive dealt with appreciate the basics mostly. The best contribution is cash. That way the charity can spend the money on stuff that people really need.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bkeats

          Yeah, the coffee beans were probably a bad choice. Hopefully a volunteer with a coffee grinder takes that home with them.

          1. re: gaffk

            it's not unreasonable that some recipients of food pantry donations might have a coffee grinder. In our town, the food bank has station for "free choice" items, from which clients can choose one or two items each week. We include the specialty seasonings and groceries in that section. Halal and fresh dairy are also separate stations, when available.

            1. re: KarenDW

              That is a great idea and a way to match specialty items to recipients who can and want to use them.

          2. Yes, I make monetary donations to Philabundance several times a year as I know it is the most effective approach. However, when the boy scouts leave a bag for me to fill, I think it's important to fill it so they will not be disappointed on collection day or will not think their neighbors don't care about local hunger.

            I guess I was just second-guessing my decision to essentially "re-gift" expensive products to the needy.

            1. I donate cash to my local food bank throughout the year but a community organization I belong to holds an annual food drive in December and we were able to give 174 pounds of food this past December. It was pretty neat. Overall, I tend to stick with monetary donations so that the food bank can get exactly what they need. Ours has a wish list posted online and we use that for the food drive. They also like to get small amounts on grocery store gift cards so that people can purchase perishables. I'm sure someone took the coffee and chocolate but, in general, I like to stick to basic pantry items.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Hobbert

                Don't get me wrong . . .my two misjudgments were only part of a large bag of tuna, beans, canned tomatoes, rice, pasta, etc. And as I said, cash is a quarterly contribution.

                But I never considered the idea of grocery gift cards for perishables . . . great idea.

                1. re: gaffk

                  Oh no, I realized you donated other food- sorry to give the wrong impression. Grocery cards were something I hadn't thought of either until our food bank posted it on their wish list but it completely makes sense. Not sure how it never occurred to me until then :)

              2. I give some fresh turkeys and help out with the cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas and some $.
                I wanted to make and donate a big pot of soup/chili a couple of times a month to a local soup kitchen but when I found out how many legal hoops I would need to go through like insurance and having a health inspector I gave up the idea.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Puffin3

                  Fortunately, the county in which we prepare and serve food for a hypothermia shelters saw the light and decided not to crack down on home prepared food and food prepared in uncertified kitchens, like church facilities. We do this weekly from mid-Nov. through March.


                  1. re: tcamp

                    Thank goodness some people still have some common sense.
                    Where I live we've gone through four 'health inspectors' in a year. There's a sweet old lady who's been selling her baked goods to the public for decades from her back porch. They are always must prized and you have to order a week in advance. One day a 'health inspector' showed up at her door demanding to confiscate all her baked goods. There was a couple from our church there to pick up some baked goods for a church function. The sweet little old lady said "would you excuse me a moment dear?". She disappeared for a minute. When she returned she pointed a fully loaded .38 revolver at the 'health inspector' and said "I don't think you will be confiscating anything from me today my dear". A week later we had a new 'health inspector' on the prowl looking for food 'Violators'!

                    1. re: Puffin3

                      Great story, Puffin. Thanks for that. I am surprised the authorities didn't come back for her and charge her with something.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        I don't think the health inspector had a legal leg to stand on. She was just pushing her weight around. IMO Also had she gone to the cops she would have had to explain to her superiors why she tried to confiscate the baking. That might have crossed her mind. Anyway she was gone a couple of weeks later. Probably got a promotion for being inept.

                2. I certainly do buy the recommended stuff: dried beans, tuna, canned tomatoes, etc. However, I remember being a starving new bride who longed for what were luxury-items for us, so I also include a few boxes of brand-name cake mixes and some sprinkles and frostings or pudding cups. Not nutritious and not as good as homemade, but I envision a Mom making a nice birthday cake her her little child. I also make sure to include packages of aluminum foil, waxed paper and plastic wrap--I vividly recall feeling "rich" on the rare occasions I actually had all 3 on hand.

                  Just my 2 cents.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: pine time

                    Thoughtful. Awesome. Wonderful. Yay you!

                    I remember the frustrated day, dealing with cheap foil that had ruined a batch of homemade toffee and, in doing the math, realized I could actually buy and use good foil from now on. What freedom, what a life changer.

                    And no, I am not being sarcastic - being able to use good tools can make SUCH a difference.

                    1. re: pine time

                      Pretty thoughtful of you... sometimes it's the small treat that really makes someone's day.

                    2. I like to donate baby food and formula to food drives, but check with your local food banks to see if/how they can accept it. In some locales they have to be picky about packaging due to health regulations.