Many of us wish to share our good fortune with others, especially during the holidays. Detective Foodsafe® shares that sentiment.
We donate money to causes near and dear to us and give food to those in need by way of our local food pantries (generally a food bank is a larger distribution site sending foods to the local pantry).
Did you know that 1 in 7 people in America rely on food pantries to feed themselves and their children? It isn’t just in rural areas, but across the nation in both small and large cities.
Unfortunately, 65% of households that use a food pantry have a child or an older adult living in the family. Many of these families have to choose between rent and food.
That means that food pantries are not just providing one-time emergency assistance, but a way of life for many households and need our ongoing support.
Donating to the Local Food Pantry
When we choose to donate to the local food pantry, we may buy extra supplies intended specifically for pantry donations when we visit the supermarket or clean out our own food pantry to give away any excess and avoid food waste.
We do so out of kindness, hoping to help the clients of the food pantry with our donations.
But do we ever consider food safety and avoiding food poisoning when we make our donations? For some of the recipients of our foodstuffs, their poor health can make them even more susceptible to food borne illness.
That is certainly not what we intend, of course.
Detective Foodsafe reminds us that our donated food should be food safe too.
Tips for Safe Donated Food
Being charitable with our donations means taking the same safety steps we would if buying for our own family.
- Check the expiration dates to ensure they are not spoiled and unsafe.
- Only donate nonperishable foods. Food that would require refrigeration should not be donated.
- Check the cans and packages for safety. Don’t donate any torn, broken, bulging, or dented containers as they may be unsafe.
- Don’t donate an opened package.
- Save your home canning for family, not the food pantry.
People who are hungry need nutritious food too.
In addition to donating foods that are safe to eat, Detective Foodsafe reminds us to think about the health of those in need as well.
Healthy donation items:
- Canned vegetables without added sodium
- Natural juice (100% juice, not laden with sweetener)
- Legumes (beans)
- Peanut butter
- Canned meat
- Whole grain foods, including oatmeal, pasta, crackers and rice
- Baby food
- Powdered milk
- Bottled water (for drinking and cooking)
- Fruit packed in its own juice
- Dried fruit, granola bars
Cash is very welcome too (and is definitely food safe)! Food pantries can buy the items they need and have more buying power than an individual so can make the money go further to meet the specific needs of the community.
Food banks also welcome cash donations.
The holidays can be abundant for local food pantries when the spirit of giving catches donors. But don’t forget they need our help all year too!
Detective Foodsafe thanks you for being a safe giver this season!