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ibstubro's avatar

If you donate food to a food pantry, do you buy the same name-brands you normally buy, or do you use the same amount of money to buy a larger quantity of no-name products?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) June 24th, 2016

I’m curious about the variety of food items in the food pantry bin.

Not to exclude, of course, the people who normally buy no-name and still donate to the pantry.

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23 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

I stockpile for a emergency. Earthquakes are really my only concern. I keep a few weeks of dry and canned goods and water on hand.

Once things get close to the expiration date I donate them. So I donate what I would normally eat which is name brand.

Darth_Algar's avatar

If I donate to anything it’s never items. I donate money. The organization will know what they need more than I will, so money allows them to put the donate where it’s needed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I donate the same kinds of food I buy for myself, which is usually generic.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I donate $$$.

A food pantry can’t do much with stray cans of beans and vegetables, and it takes tremendous time and effort to check expiration dates, sort the items, and make keep-or-toss decisions. But, if a food pantry has some money, it can negotiate great deals with wholesalers for pallets of food, or it can work directly with farmers or farmers’ markets to get large amounts of fresh produce.

johnpowell's avatar

Just a hint here. Food banks will take food that has expired within reasonable limits.

But I do agree that cash is best.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@johnpowell As someone who’s volunteered for food pantries, I fully agree that such charities will take everything. It’s bad policy to reject generosity out of hand. It would bode poorly to refuse an item and achieve nothing except embarrassing and angering the donor.

But, what gets used is an entirely different matter. Old, dented cans get discarded. The flotsam from gourmet gift baskets (anything pickled in a jar, unusual sauces and dressings, smoked fish, artisan meats, etc.) are no more useful to a hungry child than they were to the donor. Some people stop by with their party leftovers (food that had been out at room temperature, all day or evening); for reasons of liability and common sense, such things can’t be passed along.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Ask them what they want, and buy the biggest quantity you can afford of the cheapest (not expired) stuff . Or buy cases of name-brand stuff. Nobody will mind.

Either way, give cases, don’t send over a few cans and jars.

Otherwise give money and/or time.

I worked at a food pantry. Random jars and cans were not really helpful. “Hey, capers! Homeless people LOVE capers!! And they’re expired, sweet!!”

We got food in bulk through a huge area-wide foodbank. Cases and pallets of food that wasn’t expired.

Cruiser's avatar

I rarely buy name brand anything at the grocery so I just donate what I usually buy.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay Why shouldn’t I donate capers to the poor? Are you suggesting that hungry people should be deprived of the perfect meuniere sauce?

You made me laugh so much, I nearly choked! You couldn’t be any more correct – I see that you speak from experience – and you expressed your thought very effectively. Thank you for that.

ibstubro's avatar

If I donate to a food pantry I tend to donate canned vegetables, which I do not eat. I know most people do eat them, and canned vegetables are durable and long lived. Generally, I shop like it’s for me – name brand on sale cheaper than the generic.

I also donate excess pantry items like @johnpowell. If I’m not going to use them I don’t care if the food pantry then throws them away. I know some of the local pantries tend to have bins of misc stuff where it’s free reign or pick-1–2-3+. They don’t have to be like items.
I think it depends some on the size of the town/pantry.

I always hate to donate stuff in boxes because I know how easily they crush, but donating in cases would eliminate that, @Call_Me_Jay.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I try to donate what I would like to eat. I visited the food bank many times and I got mostly moldy fruit expired food and peppers. I will donate money next time when I pay off my credit card. I got hell for donating a package of king sized Caramilk bars and some Coca-Cola three years ago because candy goes to the food bank to die.

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t know that that’s true, @RedDeerGuy1. Maybe in some locations, but I know people around here that have gotten 12 packs of pop at the pantry. I’m sure candy would be distributed, too. They give out pastries, why not candy?

Granted, sweets and pop are not the preferred donation, but – at least around here – they will be welcomed by someone.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@ibstubro Thanks… I don’t feel as bad anymore.

Cruiser's avatar

@Love_my_doggie I agree 100%. Truth be told I cooked chicken piccata tonight with a copious amount of capers. Something so minute in the recipe was the difference between blah and “OH YEAH!”

BellaB's avatar

$$ is best as the food bank can get more food for my money than I can. But every now and then I’ll go and get some interesting things that people don’t usually donate from one of the multicultural sections of the grocery. Toronto’s got many many many people from many countries and cultures and they don’t always find culturally appropriate goodies at the food bank.

Coloma's avatar

I donate pet food. Poor people and homeless have pets too. A 20# bag of Pedigree or Friskies is a good choice as well. I figure there is enough Top Ramen, canned green beans, corn, peoples 4 year old can of yams, mac-n-cheese, rice, oatmeal, spaghetti and all the other, rather offensive “poor” but popular, peoples fare.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

^^^ Excellent point. Laundry detergent is a precious commodity, too, although I’ve always been reluctant to donate any. Detergent is expensive and needed by everyone; frankly, I’m afraid that one of the food pantry’s staff members or volunteers will take it.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Here’s a wish list from a food bank:

Feeding America – West Michigan – Most-Needed Items for Food Drives

High-protein items are always appreciated. We are unable to distribute opened, repackaged, or home-processed foods.

We welcome these non-expired foods:

Peanut butter
Macaroni and cheese
Other dried grains
Canned vegetables
Canned fruits
Canned chicken/fish/meat
Canned soup or soup mix

Toilet paper
Pads and tampons
Baby diapers – disposable
Hair brushes/combs

Dog food – dry or canned
Cat food – dry or canned

Darth_Algar's avatar

@BellaB ”$$ is best as the food bank can get more food for my money than I can.”

Yep. Money is the best resource any charity can get.

Coloma's avatar

I like to gve cash too, and also give cash to homeless. I don’t believe in controlling others, at all, and a few bucks gives the person a choice, instead of making them feel like a child. If they want to buy a beer, go for it, whatever it takes to get through your day, it’s a gift, spend on whatever you want.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 You’ve gotten moldy fruit? All of the food pantries I’ve encountered, or boxes set up to receive food for the food pantries, strictly specify “Non perishable goods.” I can’t imagine a food pantry accepting fresh fruits and vegetables, because they have no way to preserve them, much less handing them out, much less handing them out if they were moldy. They’d get shut down in a heart beat.

ibstubro's avatar

One of the Salvation Army stores I visit has a back room alcove where you can anyone that signs their name can take whatever food they want, @Dutchess_III.
I’ve seen fresh fruit and vegetables that the store obviously could not sell sitting on tables, room temperature. Beat up bread. Stuff that I would find offensive. But I’m not in need, so I’m not the target – and the stuff seems to exit pretty quickly.

It might not be ideal, or even legal for that matter, but it seems pretty popular. I expect that the SA has a food pantry somewhere in town and take the perishables to the store for NSA distribution.

BellaB's avatar

our local food bank always tries to have some fresh fruit available but it’s one of those things they really need to buy to ensure it’s super-fresh. Of course trying doesn’t mean always succeeding.

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