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Nov 21, 2013 09:31 AM

What would *you* want from the food pantry?

My 5-year-old, bless him, wants to use his allowance to go shopping for the food drive at his school. I have a general practice of not donating anything we wouldn't eat—so, getting the whole-wheat pasta, the more wholesome cereals. Beyond that, what would you be pleased to get if you were on the receiving end of nonperishable food donations?

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  1. You have a GREAT kid there. Bless him, too.

    I'd assume most of those visiting a food pantry would have kids, so think along the lines of things that are healthy that your child will eat. Aside from what you mentioned above, my thought was peanut butter. Its a really good source of protein, and for folks who are in need, meat is probably the first thing in their diet to go, plus protein gives you that "full" feeling, so protein sources are important.

    Would your child be willing to eat any kinds of canned beans? Like baked beans? Beans are good too, but I'm not sure how many kids would willingly eat them.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ePressureCooker

      Exactly, e! 100 years of research shows poor communities have higher obesity and diabetes problems because of the high grain/ carb intake and lack of protein due to the cost of meats, etc.

      1. re: weezieduzzit

        to update your info:
        the newer research is showing a positive correlation with meat intake and diabetes. this would suggest that to decrease the incidence of diabetes, non-meat sources of protein should be consumed.

        as an example:

        1. re: westsidegal

          That is true, but as the abstract states, it is mostly red and processed meats: poultry and fish, as well as non-animal protein sources, are part of the "prudent" diet (though of course one doesn't have to eat any animal protein), and too much processed grain is bad too.

          1. re: lagatta

            now if the food science folks could come up with an acceptable shelf stable tofu like they did with milk.

            the 'why would they' is a different question altogether.

            1. re: hill food

              There is a very decent shelf-stable silken tofu in tetrapaks from Mori-Nu: While not a luxury food, it is rather more expensive than non-shelf-stable tofu.

              Nothing to do with food science, just packaging.

      2. re: ePressureCooker

        Most people visiting our food pantry don't have kids.

        Good quality nut butters, good quality tuna and canned salmon, decent pasta, baked beans, tomato paste and sauce, coffee and tea, jam.

        These are the most popular itemsat the pantry where I have volunteered for 20 years.
        And apples!

      3. Peanut and other nut butters for sure. Coffee. Stewed tomatoes

        1. Healthy canned soups, or a bag of ingredients for soup - you, know, the ones with dried corn, beans, dried herbs, rice, etc. to "make your own soup", along with tetrapaks of chicken or beef broth. Canned chili, cans of tomato paste and tomato sauce.

          Peanut butter, certain canned veggies (low sodium), oatmeal (not instant), low-sugar cereals, such as Cheerios, small boxes of shelf-stable milk, fruit leather, Jiffy cornbread mix.

          But think about *non-food* items as well. Shampoo, toothpaste and travel toothbrushes, shaving cream, razors, hand soap, feminine hygiene products, etc. are always forgotten about. I have a store nearby called The Christmas Tree Shop where I can go get 10 or 12 "sample sizes" of things like I noted above and they're well received.

          ETA: a link for the bagged dried soup mixes I was referring to:

          10 Replies
          1. re: LindaWhit

            Oh, those Bob's packs are a great idea. I was going to get toiletries too. Yes, my kid eats baked beans, not other beans, but I know several kids who like bean burritos.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I don't want to sound dense but what is boxed shelf stable milk? I saw another post about cream that can be kept in a pantry?

              1. re: MamasCooking

                UHT, ultra high temperature. But I'd probably worry the box would get smashed and leak.

                1. re: jaykayen

                  Doesn't smash or leak, it's very reliable. Tomato sauce is sold this way as well. Square boxes take up less space than round and are easy to stack and store.

                  Shelf stable milk is sold in the same aisle as canned evaporated milk.

                  When we served tent city in south jersey the families were very happy to receive it.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    No more than can dents or glass breaks? Cardboard rips.

                    Our local food pantry sent me an email on Monday, I get a list each month.

                    This month the list contained:
                    market baskets, brown bags, canned pumpkin puree, dry bread cubes, shelf stable rice milk, spices, manual can openers, plastic ziplock bags, foil and canned green beans.

                  1. re: MamasCooking

                    Really ultra pasteurized milk. They use it at my kiddo's day care and as the grand daughter of dairy farmers, it scares the somethings out of me. Shelf stable until opened.

                    1. re: autumm

                      We spend time in Brazil every year and that's the only way milk is sold. What about it scares you?

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I don't really care for it, but BUT I stock up a bit at home for several reasons: power outages/shortfalls on fresh (where I live being either flooded-in or iced-in can happen at any time of year and the nearest 24/7 store is 40 minutes away) and (this is the one I love) being able to come home after a long vacation and there's no soured stinky milk in the fridge.

                2. Food pantries need high quality proteins, not simple carbs and starches like pasta and cereals- they already get lots of those (along with people on extremely tight budgets already buying those according to some studies.)

                  Peanut butter, canned tuna, salmon and chicken, shelf stable milks like LW mentioned, beans and legumes, broth and stock, etc. are all sought after donations.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    Agreed with this, the first thing I thought of when I read the thread title was "proteins".

                    Also Linda's comment about buying non-food items is a good one. Feminine hygiene products being at the top of the list. Maybe your 5 year old wouldn't be into buying those, but something to keep in mind :)

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      When I bought about $150 non-food items at TCTS last year, the person at the checkout asked "If you don't mind me asking, what is this for - soldiers?" I said not this time (I sent 4 boxes of toiletries and snacks to a Chowhound from Seattle stationed in Afghanistan a few years back)- and said it was for a food pantry. Someone else behind me heard it and said "what a great idea!" and stepped off the line with her cart and went to grab a lot of toiletries to donate herself.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        That's awesome, LW. :) Extra awesome that you inspired someone else to do the same,

                    2. re: weezieduzzit

                      The canned fish/meat is the first thing I thought of, too.

                    3. I suggest you contact the local food bank to ask them what they don't get enough of. I am a retired mail carrier who collected donated food from postal customers for many USPS food drives. Dry cereals, pasta, canned tomato products, and canned soups were the most commonly-donated items. Most of them are also inexpensive. I'll bet food banks don't get nearly as much canned tuna, hash, or chicken as they'd like. For obvious reasons, cans and plastic
                      jars are preferable to glass. Better Than Bouillon soup base, dried fruits, and dried legumes are also excellent. They are nutritious and don't take up a lot of shelf room either at the food bank or in the home.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: greygarious

                        I have volunteered here and there for food banks and I have to agree on the canned fish and meat. It's rare to see any donated meats other than in soup.

                        "I suggest you contact the local food bank to ask them what they don't get enough of."
                        Of course this is the best advice.