The Summer Guide to Food Donations

While food drives and charitable giving are plentiful during the winter holidays, food pantries are in need of donations throughout the year. Read on to find out why you should consider donating during the summer months, what’s needed most, and how you can rally your community to do their part.

Why should I donate now?

According to Feeding America, food insecurity afflicts over 48 million people in the United States with 1.5 million of them living in Michigan. In addition, millions of school-aged children and teens receive free or reduced-priced meals through their schools, but this only lasts during the school year. This means that the people affected by food insecurity do not consistently eat enough nutritionally adequate food each day to live healthy lifestyles. Donating and helping the community are often more prevalent during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as the spirit of giving is in the air. However, the joy of giving back to the community can often take a vacation once spring and summer start. While it is heartwarming that people like to spend their holidays in charitable ways, help is needed year-round, especially in the summer.

What should I donate?

While most food pantries and soup kitchens will happily accept any donations, some foods are in much higher demand than others. Nutrient-rich, nonperishable foods make great donations because they are filling, healthy, and do not need to be consumed right away. Some in-demand items for donations include:

  • canned tuna, chicken, low-sodium soups and stews, fruits, and vegetables
  • canned or dry beans
  • peanut butter
  • unsalted nuts and popcorn kernels
  • lentils
  • brown rice
  • whole grain pasta
  • rolled oats and low-sugar cereals
  • shelf-stable milk
  • canola and olive oil
  • baby formula
  • baby food

When in doubt, consider a monetary donation, which allows the organization to use the funds as needed.

How can I get donations?

There are plenty of ways to collect donations for a local food panty or soup kitchen that are fun, educational, and engaging. Try one of the following for your next food drive:

  • Themed or team food drives: Themes and teams for food drives can be based on holidays, upcoming company or club events or anniversaries, birthdays, and so on. Each team can be appointed a food group to collect.
  • Apple picking (or any other in-season fruit): Take a family trip, school field trip, or go on a date with your significant other to an apple orchard to pick apples. Instead of taking your haul home, donate your pickings to a food pantry. You will have fun afternoon plans at the orchard while you support local businesses and food insecure individuals in the community. Food pantries are more accustomed to donated canned produce, so the fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables will be a welcomed treat!
  • Pantry Days/Denim Days: Offices can host Pantry Days, also known as Denim Days, during which employees can dress down in jeans or comfy clothes for the day for a “fee” of three food donations or $3. Everything that is collected will go to the local food pantry.
  • Host a movie night: Invite friends over or host a larger community movie night event. In order to participate, guests must bring donation items as their “ticket” to get in. Themes can be food-related such as “Anti-Hunger Games” or “Give, Pray, Love.”

Do you have any creative food drive ideas? Share with us in the comments!

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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