Donating to Your Local Food Pantry

Food  photoI once heard a man talking in front of a large audience about his impoverished life growing up as a child. I’ll never forget what he said about it in regards to people ‘giving’ to their family. When they moved into a housing development and did not have any furniture, he said that people felt they were doing something beautiful by giving them their old, stained, ripped couch. Surely beggars can’t be choosers right? As a little boy, he didn’t understand the concept of receiving charity like that. He just couldn’t comprehend it. It made an impact on his life and his testimonial made me think about it because how often do we feel that if people have nothing then surely they should be grateful for anything they get right?

In giving food to a local food pantry, consider if you would actually eat what you are buying. Why is it that people seem to think the very best thing to give are canned beans? Believe me, I know this because I have volunteered at food pantries and there comes a point where you have to put a sign on the door that says “no more beans please”. It’s like some sort of unwritten code that says the poor love canned beans or that is all they really need or maybe some feel it’s all they deserve.

My church has a food pantry and we send out emails asking for food donations and we are very specific in that we want people who donate to please donate from their surplus. This means, if you buy Jif Peanut Butter, please donate the same brand to the pantry. Don’t buy yourself Jif and then the generic for the pantry. However, if you barely make ends meet and your pulling from your budget to stretch to buy food for a pantry then okay, get the generic but morally, I feel if we want to give to bless someone else in an unfortunate situation then it should be the same as what we would hope for if we were hungry and our children were hungry and could not buy our own food. We encourage people to give fun foods because everyone loves snacks. Our pantry is probably also the only one in the area that offers frozen meat and vegetables instead of strictly canned goods. Our members will often purchase from Angel Food Ministries and donate a unit.

Often times, you may never see it but your neighbor who seems to be doing just fine may be feeding their children popcorn for dinner and eventually, secretly need a food pantry for a short time. (I have seen this as well.) Many people encounter hard times and need a little help.

There are huge food pantries that are very organized and feed approved, impoverished families every month. Next, there are small, local food pantries typically run by churches that will help families who are in a rough spot and need temporary help. Smaller pantries can not usually afford to feed multiple families year round but will offer assistance for a few months. Many times there are people temporarily down on their luck and will not qualify for Government assistance and perhaps maybe not even a larger food pantry organization and really need help. As I stated previously about the family feeding their children popcorn for dinner is the very reason our church began our pantry. The family doing this had a nice house, nice income and yet it was the Holidays and he lost his job. Nobody knew they were suffering so badly financially that they couldn’t pay bills. On the outset they smiled and looked okay but inside, their cupboards were bare. Their neighbors didn’t know, nobody knew and it was found out by accident what they were living on.

It seems that there is a stigma in that if a person needs food from a pantry that they must not want to work and only deserve what less than the best while we feast on the fat. Please, if you are the giving type and like to donate to pantries or if your work or community does a food drive and you decide to be a part of it, donate what you yourself would like. Be generous; give out of your abundance exactly what you would like if you were hungry.

Donation Suggestions:

Already complete boxed meals

Tuna helpers and Tuna

Pasta and Sauces

Peanut Butter and Jelly or Honey

Mac and Cheese/Canned Spaghetti or Spaghetti O’s

Little Debbie Snacks, Raisons, Graham Crackers

Cereal of all kinds

Instant Oatmeal

Canned goods

Juice for children

Toiletries and Household items such as detergent etc….

Diapers of all sizes and Wipes

Remember, it could be you or someone you love that needs help some day. Give what you think you would like to eat. Just because someone is down on their luck or poor doesn’t mean they want to live on canned beans and Spam.

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