A survey on Reddit.com asked volunteers what items people would be most appreciative of and we’ve listed the top 10 below. Even though some of the stuff isn't essential, giving variety and little luxuries go a long way. If you’re looking for an easy way to help out, pick some of these up while shopping and drop them off at one of our area food banks.
1. Spices. Think about it. People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. They love spices. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.
2. Feminine Products. Can you imagine being worried about affording these? Pads, tampons, panty liners, etc. Recommended: Buy in bulk at Costco for donating.
3. Chocolate. People don’t need it, but think about being in their shoes and how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials.
4. Toiletries. Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Food stamps often don’t cover these.
5. Canned meats and jerky. This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.
6. Crackers and tortillas. They don’t spoil and everybody likes them.
7. Baby toiletries. Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.
8. Soup packets. Sometimes you look at rice, beans, instant potatoes, and cans of vegetable and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal.
9. Socks. From a former homeless person: “Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you.”
10. Canned fruit other than pineapple. Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. Their clients love it when other kinds of fruit are available.
"mobilepopemobile: Former homeless and food pantry user, and what I loved most about getting my little box of staples was the occasional luxury foods. Food pantries have tons of canned veggies and beans and even salted meats, but getting to enjoy a bit of chocolate or something else I wouldn't dream of buying at the time made my holiday. Also, spices, especially pepper and red pepper flakes and garlic. They can make any bland dish better and last a good long time. "
And remember! Food banks love cash donations because it allows them to buy whatever they need!
Visit [South Jersey Food Bank]