It's that time of year! When food drives are in full swing, whether it be at your kid's school, at work or at the local mall! The signs and advertisements say things like "bring a non-perishable food item", "donate a canned good" but guess what! Food Banks need much more than that can of chicken soup that you pulled out of your pantry while you were sending your son off to school! Food Banks are, of course, grateful for anything they receive! Especially the non-perishables, they help keep their shelves full after all! But as the years have gone on I've learned that food banks (and other helpful organizations) have a real need for other items that you most likely have laying around your house or a quick trip to the local grocery store could fulfill! So today I'm here to give you some new ideas of items to donate to your local food bank!
1. Feminine Hygiene Products
Yep, there it is, I'm hitting you with the big one first. Ladies, we all know how expensive these items are, help a girl out and donate a few of these items! Whether it be Pads, Tampons, Feminine Wipes/Wash, we all know how important these items are and they're always needed at the food banks!
2. Soap, Shampoo, Body Wash
Really anything you would use in the bath/shower! These are super easy to pick up when you're out shopping, I actually try to buy them on sale and with a coupon so that they're even cheaper!
3. Socks, socks and more socks!
Socks are so important, especially in colder climates! Remember that people of all ages and sizes are utilizing the food bank, so try to donate a variety of sizes and styles; like dressy black socks for job interviews! or sizes that may be forgotten about; like tiny baby socks or very large sizes!
4. Baby Items
Another big one. As Moms (or maybe Dads, hey Dads!) we know how many items are needed for babies and how the prices add up so quickly! Items like diapers (remember the big sizes; often "leftover" small sizes are donated and shelves are short on 5s and 6s) wipes, formula, baby food/cereal & baby snacks are always needed and appreciated! Also remember other items like body wash, lotions, Vaseline, rash creams, boogie wipes, & even socks or onesies would be super helpful for new moms!
5. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
These are my favourite items to donate to our local food bank and honestly one of the easiest & least expensive! A few times a year when there is big sale on toothbrushes and toothpaste I will use coupons to get these items for free or almost free, I keep a few for our home and donate the rest! These items are SO important because oral health effects your whole body, so helping to keep those teeth clean also helps to keep people as healthy as possible! Mouthwash and Floss can be helpful as well!
6. Gifts Cards
Gift Cards for stores like Wal-Mart, Grocery Stores & Dollar Stores are so helpful, so that people can purchase items for themselves instead of choosing items off the shelves. Maybe they have dietary restrictions or allergies, maybe they eat certain items for religious reasons, whatever the case, gift cards in small increments are extremely useful! The food banks can also use these gift cards to purchase their most needed items!
No explanation needed, we all use it! Deodorant is another item that I purchase on sale and with coupons!
I recently learned about the need for spices, I really never thought of them as a "luxury". But imagine how bland some foods would be with out a little salt and pepper! These items are small and usually inexpensive, try adding salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, cumin, sage, paprika, and more to your food bank shopping list!
9. Toilet Paper & Paper Towel
Tissues and napkins too! These are items we use daily, so why do we forget them when donating to the food bank!? AND! These are another item that you could grab on sale & with a coupon!
10. Chocolate & Candy
You're probably like, girl whaaaattt! But come on, everyone deserves a little something! There are kids visiting the food bank, you don't think they would enjoy a mini chocolate bar on their way home? Or a single mom who just wants to sit and eat a few gummy bears after her kids go to bed! Everyone needs something in their day that makes them smile, and I don't know about you but chocolate sure does make me smile!
11. First Aid Items
Another one that I had never thought of! Items like band aids, gauze, alcohol wipes, tape, polysporin, or those cute mini first aid kits would be super helpful!
12. School Supplies
Items like this are usually donated in the summer or fall but in the middle of the year most kids need a top up of items they've used or lost! Things like pens, pencils, notebooks, lined or white paper, safety scissors, erasers, pencil cases and backpacks are always needed by kids and not something people think of during the year!
13. Allergy Friendly Foods!
Remember that people visiting the food banks may have allergies or dietary restrictions. These items are very rarely donated to food banks making it hard to fulfill people's needs! Items that are nut free, gluten free, vegan/vegetarian or dairy/lactose free would be very must appreciated!
14. Cleaning Products
Another one that I had never really thought of but that would be very useful! Think items like; all-purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner, Windex, disinfectant wipes, laundry detergent, even air fresheners. These are another group of items that can be purchased on sale and with coupons! You could even go the route of donating items that can be used to make DIY cleaners, like vinegar and baking soda!
15. Plastic Bags, Boxes
Items to carry everything in! Since plastic grocery bags are not free anymore at most stores, I'm seeing more and more food banks asking for donations of items for their visitors to take their items home in. So things like plastic bags, sturdy boxes with handles, re-usable grocery bags, even gently used backpacks can be used to haul their items!
So now that I've given you 15 great ideas of items to donate to your local food bank, I thought I would share a quick list of things that they're always looking to keep stocked on their shelves!