I read today that Second Harvest Heartland is having trouble keeping up with local demand for food. What I found interesting was one of the reasons. The decline in food donations is “in part, because there’s less waste from companies that produce and supply food.”
I wonder if there is less waste because companies are trying to be more responsible with their production methods. Or perhaps it’s because in today’s economy, they are being more efficient to keep costs down. Either way, it’s causing a dearth of food at the food bank. I did a little research, and it seems that food banks across the U.S. are in extra need. Donations are down while need is up.
In Ohio, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank reported in August that for the first half of the year, food distributions increased 14%.
In Tacoma, Washington “food banks report that they are responding to increased visits from individuals needing food and are serving many families that have never used a food bank before.”
In Baltimore, Maryland “the number of customers the food bank serves has increased” and the food is “going out as fast as it comes in.”
I know that every week when I receive the electronic bulletin from my own church, there is a mention of the needs our food pantry has because it has seen an increase in use over the past few months.
A look at today’s headlines is enough to convince me that the need for donations to food pantries is only going to increase in the upcoming months. The media is running out of creative ways to say “the economy sucks” when writing headlines.
With the holidays just ahead, food pantries will be at their busiest. But the good news is that with the holiday season approaching, many of the staples that food pantries are in need of will go on sale in the grocery stores in the upcoming months. And if the food manufactures offer coupons for those staples as they have in the past, it’s often fairly inexpensive for those who have the means to make donations to do so.
I’m usually a proponent of shopping the edges of the stores where the most natural, whole foods can be found. But sometimes, and this is one of those times, there’s a need for going up and down the isles to buy processed, non-perishable items that food pantries can keep their shelves stocked with. If you’ve got the money, by all means buy the organic soups and pastas that are available to donate. But if those are not in your budget, go ahead and buy the conventional soup that’s buy one get one free that you have a coupon for and donate that.
If you’re unsure of what items are needed at a food pantry, I found a list from Community Action of Greene County, New York. The items that are on their list would work for any food pantry. Some food pantries also accept donations of fresh foods including meat and dairy products. You would need to contact the individual pantry that you are looking to donate to for specifics of what fresh foods they can accept.
I meet with a group of friends every Friday morning for coffee and fellowship, and last month we decided that we needed to do a service project once a month. This month, we’re going to help fill our church’s food pantry.
Would you consider donating to a local food pantry, too? Even if it’s just a few cans of soup or a box of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce, you can help others.
If you’re looking for a food pantry near you to donate to, or if you find yourself in need of some help, you can locate a pantry at pantrynet.org or contact a local house of worship. Don’t feel as if you need to be a member of the house of worship to contact them, most accept help from anyone in their community and are happy to help those outside of their congregation.