Some things are funny, some never are.
I know that humor is subjective but when it comes in the form of dismissive unawareness to another's plight, I can't not say anything. Yesterday I was at our grocery store when I overheard someone pushing their cart in front of me say, "Oh, the Thanksgiving food barrels are out! You know what that means, I can clean out my cabinets of the turtle soup I never used!"
Oh, so funny, right? Nope. Nope nope and again nope. I told her how I think if I were without food, that I'd appreciate food that was within its expiration date. (maybe she'll listen to me, maybe she won't. you can't tell with people)
There are families who count on the food donations that fill food pantries. It's hard to think of families making the trip to a pantry to find items that so obviously scream 'discard.' I've heard jokes like this before. When I was working and around a lot more people than I am now, our company would hold food drives. There would be laughter when someone would say, "Good! Finally a place to dump the canned artichokes I've been hanging on to for ten years!"
To the people who think this way about food pantries, can I ask you to please stop? If someone goes to a food pantry, it's because their family has to eat.
Before I decided to write this post, I called our area pantry and asked them the best items to donate with the food donation barrels that are out for the month of November. I want to share this with you so that when you do pick up extra unexpired items at the store (as would be, you know, the loving thing to do) you'll get these items, educate others about these items, and let your kids see and remember what items are best.
Happy food drive filling, and enjoy the warm fuzzies fluttering in your heart:
1.) Mixes and cereals made with water. Many households are without eggs or milk, butter, so anything that only requires water is awesome. Think pancake mixes, cereals, oatmeals, Ramen, boxed noodles, instant rice. You get the picture.
2) Mac and cheese that comes with the cheese mix in a foil pouch. Nothing needed but boiling water for the noodles. Stovetop stuffing is perfect, too.
3.) Lots of canned protein. Turkey spam is really good and along with some boxed noodle mixes, there are the fixings for a complete dinner. 6-packs of tuna are awesome!
4.) Peanut butter. Oh, in all the sizes and packages. I pick up the peanut butter crackers in a 10-pack because I know they 'll be used to build a protein-packed lunch for a hungry child.
5.) Squeezable fruit sauces. These can be used for breakfasts, school lunch, after school snacks. We can help kids to get their fruits during times of doing without. Small lunch size cups of mandarins are great for Vitamin C. Target sells them in packs of 16. Also, fun sized cartons of craisins, raisins, yummy yogurt raisins.
6.) Toothpaste and toothbrushes! Some cute toothbrushes will make a child's day! I pick up 5 or so and toss them in, along with kid toothpastes and some floss.
7.) Something special for kids. Why not? They're little and what fun to find bags of individual Oreos in the bags your parents bring home. Wouldn't you like that if you were little? Say yes. Something that is unexpected and not a necessity, but a reminder of what makes you happy, that's doing good right there.
8.) Remember canned and dried beans/lentils/chickpeas for vegetarians. Minute Rice makes a dehydrated pack/combo of rice and beans together -- you add water to the fill line, they're pretty good.
This list will be my guideline when I donate to food pantries. I'll vary it, but one steady item that I will always always always include from now on is 2 boxes of instant baby cereal. It only needs water, it's the first food many infants have, and what a relief for a mama to know that in her cabinets, her baby has something to eat.
You guys are the best. If you have it to spare, please share.
* * *