Food Bank Workers Explain Which Items Are Most In Demand During The Holidays

There are people in great need this holiday season, and all year long. The food banks are overrun with recipients who could really use humanity's help. It is especially tough during the holiday season to go without. People are missing the basics, nobody should be hungry in this world of wealth.

Redditor u/Latvian_Pete wanted everyone to know what is most needed to make the holidays bountiful for all by asking.... Redditors who work at food banks, what is best to donate, what do you always need?


Ready & Go....

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Just volunteered last week! One item they needed more of was things ready to eat right out of the package because they send those to the schools for lunch assistance programs. I mean you could hand a kid a box of dry macaroni, but they'd have no way to cook it there. BellerophonSkydiving

In order of preference.... 

In order of preference;

  1. Cash, since the buying power of the foodbank is greater than what you can give. Sometimes by a factor of 2-3.
  2. Hygiene Items. Depending on what your regional food bank is, many of the regional ones only have food, so any type of hygiene items (especially feminine products) is a huge help.
  3. Paper and cleaning products (soap, laundry detergent). These are not often considered necessary items, but not having to pay for them frees up a lot of money for someone who is having a hard time.
  4. Your time. Most foodbanks have dedicated volunteers who are familiar with the processes and the people going to the food bank. If you are going to go once, do what you are told and otherwise keep out of the way. Becoming a regular volunteer is better. laztheinfamous

Family-size.....

I volunteer to food banks that also donate essential things.

That we always need : Pads and tampons. We always lack those. And Diapers. Both for babies, and for older people. Also cleaning products. If they have a home, they need things to clean it, if only to feel better in it.

When it comes to food what we often lack is things that can be eaten cold or don't need preparation. Too many people live in their cars or in the street. They don't have access to pans, stove, microwaves, anything you'd find in a kitchen really.

We could also do with more things for single people. Family-size is great for families. But for people who are alone, it means that once open it will either go to waste or more likely have someone eat something that had gone bad.

We do still need the usual food, family-size things etc etc. But we ran out of what I have listed more often than other stuff. Marawal

Coin. 

Cash. They can get items for cheaper than consumers.

I worked in a combo food shelf/home goods shelf and underwear, socks, and hygiene items like deodorant were very popular. Also, pet food! tomtenisse1

Year Round.

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Not exactly what OP was asking but I was a frequent volunteer at food banks. They would always tell us that whatever we donate, remember to donate during the spring and summer.

Hunger still continues beyond the holiday season. Truegold43

Fur Babies in Need. 

I could've used donated pet food a time or two. I've used food banks and gone to churches when they give out food. Saved my butt a few times.

I don't know about anyone else, but I've gotten donated people food for my animals. Just about any kind of plain meat, canned, fresh, or frozen, will feed a pet in a pinch. One place always gave out these big cans of cooked pork and beef. My people family was not fond of those meats, but my pets loved them.

I'd rinse the meat cuz it was salty af and dole it out. Wasn't the best choice (dogs and cats need more than just muscle meat) but hey, they didn't starve.

I'd ask and see if a food bank would take it. Or give them cash and maybe ask if they'd consider buying pet supplies. FelisHorriblis

Expirations. 

People have already given sufficient responses on what to give, but I just need to ask everybody to please check the dates on the stuff you're giving us. Last week I found spaghetti sauce that expired on January 7th, 2010. It's just a nuisance to give us stuff we can't use. TheProfessorOfPi

Many Things...

I've run a food pantry for 5 years.

  1. Cash is king. Depending on the state your food pantry is located, they can get staple items relatively cheaply. When ordering for our pantry, we can get staple items incredibly cheap or even for free.
  2. Feminine hygiene products. Tampons, pads. Anything needed like that is incredibly important.
  3. Other cooking supplies. Butter. Olive oil. Flour. Folks that use pantries cook but don't always have these items. They're important, basic cooking tools. PezDOY

Closest Shopping Abilities. 

I am the co-director of a volunteer-run food & hygiene pantry. We can't accept cash/checks ourselves and the organization that handles monetary donations for us has a lot of hoops they like to put us through to use funds. That being said, if someone wants to do some sort of monetary donation, we always say Walmart Gift Cards. It's the closest major store and has everything we need.

For actual items, we generally accept anything non-perishable, unopened, and within expiration (or at least not too expired since we have a guide that tells us how long different food items are still good for past the printed date). sweetxsunflower

​I'm not a food bank worker but have been a recipient.

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I'm not a food bank worker but have been a recipient. The problem I would have was that I would receive dry pasta but no sauce. Or Mac n cheese but would not have the milk or butter at home to make it. I would suggest that if Mac n cheese is donated, the kind with the squeeze cheese would be better. People don't always have the items needed to make a full meal with some of the items that are donated. Another thing we rarely received was canned fruit. Since perishables were rarely donated, canned fruit was a great treat to receive. JAMM_412

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