What is best to donate to food banks, shelters

The holiday season brings out the sense of giving in most of us and that extends beyond are family and friends.

Food pantries and homeless shelters are often the recipients of more generosity at this time of year over most other months.

Before donating to local places, here are important things to keep in mind about what you can (and should) donate and what food banks won’t accept.

Food banks accept dry and canned food donations — essentially, any food that is nonperishable or what you can normally keep in your home pantry and it won’t go bad.

Specifically, food banks often need items like:

Peanut butter

Canned soup

Canned fruit

Canned vegetables

Canned stew

Canned fish

Canned beans

Pasta (most prefer whole grain)

Rice (most prefer brown rice)

Canned milk

Baby food in jars

Avoid food with damaged packaging such as dented or bloated cans, packaging that is already open, or even items in glass containers.

Also, baked goods may sound like a warm idea, they are in fact not a good idea because the pantry cannot confirm how the baked goods were made or their ingredients.

Additionally, some food banks accept personal care and household items, since many families struggle to afford these items and they aren’t covered by other food assistance programs like SNAP.

If you’re still stumped about what to donate, just look in your own pantry. Families struggling with hunger often can’t afford the staples that we normally have stocked at home.

Here are some nonfood items that shelter need:

Toilet paper

Diapers and wipes

Socks and shoes.

New underwear


General hygiene products

Feminine hygiene items

New kids’ clothes

School supplies

Toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, lip balm.