I volunteer in a food pantry across the river in a neighboring town, and today was my day to work.
I’m sure that areas around the country handle the need for food pantries in different ways. In our area there is a big Food Bank, and then we have food pantries scattered around the region in locations that supposedly make it easier for the people who need the food. You can donate food or money to the Food Bank, or directly to the food pantries. Our Food Bank sells food to the pantry where I volunteer. (The Bank has to somehow recover their costs. They are too big to be staffed with just volunteers.) The food we get from the Food Bank costs our pantry about 8 cents per pound. Doesn’t matter what the food is.
When I first found out that the FB sold food to my pantry, I thought that it was best for people to contribute food directly to us. But it isn’t necessarily so. We make up packages for families based on size, and some other criteria, such as ages of children. Contributions are hodge-podge. We can end up with some odd items, and not know who to give them too. Buying food from the big FB enables us to give out consistent food packages. But contributions are also wonderful. We get bread daily from day-old bread places, also ground beef, butter, eggs, and sometimes cheese from another source.
If you have any extra money in your budget, and not everyone does, please try to donate to your local food bank, food pantry, or soup kitchen. All good causes. What to donate? For food banks and pantries, it has to be non-perishable, and should in non-breakable containers-- plastic jars instead of glass. Food kitchens can use perishable items, and big bulk sizes also. The FB’s and FP’s need individual family sizes.
Good items are peanut butter, canned or powdered soup, canned or powdered milk, baby food, canned fruit, cereal, rice, noodles, canned spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, complete-meals-in-a-box type food, canned meat (like tuna and Spam), juice in plastic bottles or cans, tea bags, crackers, boxed things like cheese and macaroni, the list is long.
Our little pantry gets no federal, state, county, or city monies. We donate our time and our money to keep the place going. Several churches donate money, and my own church donates food regularly. At age 63, I’m the youngest volunteer there. Everyone else must be at least 110 and older. I’m always afraid that they’ll all die and I’ll be stuck. Don’t laugh. This is a real fear. Also a real possibility!
We truly do serve an important purpose. No matter what, there will always be people who cannot feed themselves and their children. I always dread going in to work at the pantry, but each time I leave, I feel good. Not just about the public that we serve, but about those really old people who volunteer there. Makes me feel young.