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Why You Should Donate Money Instead of Food to Your Local Food Bank

A woman handing canned goods to another woman standing next to a box marked "Food Donations."
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

If you’re spring cleaning the pantry and find some food you no longer want, you might consider donating it to a local food pantry. However, there’s a way you can help them more.

Do Food Pantries Need Food Donations?

Yes and no would both be valid answers to the above question. If you have food that’s not nearing its expiration date and isn’t all canned, it’s possible it could go be of use.

If you have specialty foods, like gluten-free and vegan options, your local pantry could probably use it for people in need who have dietary restrictions.

So, if you want to donate food, do the following:

  • Contact local pantries to find out if they need what you have.
  • Make sure none of the food has expired or is within a few months of expiring.
  • Save the items for a local food drive instead.

It’s far better not to waste food you don’t intend to eat if you can avoid it, but food donations aren’t always the be-all, end-all solution for food pantries.

What’s Better Than Donating Food?

If you really want to help a local food pantry, monetary donations are best. Not only does the money allow them to stay open and supply food to those in need, but it also allows them to sponsor related programs to further help poor and homeless people.

Bill Ehle, of Michigan-based food pantry Pagans in Need, explained why donating cash is better:

“The reason giving cash to a food pantry can be better is that way the needs of the clients can be met. Some clients have allergies and can’t eat things like macaroni and cheese, pasta, cereal, or bread. Having the ability to get items that the client can use is important.”

So, next time you’re cleaning out your pantry, consider asking your friends if they want the food you don’t need. Or, include a check with any food you donate to your local pantry.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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