So, you’re ready to donate food to help us this Holiday season. That’s great! Whether you’re starting a group project to collect food or just planning to grab a few extra items for donation while out grocery shopping, there are a couple of things you should know about what you can (and should) donate and what food programs won’t accept. Learn more about donating food for the holiday season.
“You cannot warm the hearts of people with God’s love if they have an empty stomach and cold feet.”
What to donate to Hope 1 Ministries food drive donation and what to avoid
This part is pretty easy. Hope 1 Ministries accept dry and canned food donations. What does that mean? Basically, any food that is “shelf-stable” or nonperishable – you can keep it in your pantry and it won’t go bad. And remember, only donate food that hasn’t reached its “sell-by” date yet. Specifically, we 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)
That’s definitely not an exhaustive list but it covers a lot of what Hope 1 Ministries regularly need. Additionally, we accept personal care and household items, since many families struggle to afford these items and they aren’t covered by other food assistance programs.
What not to donate to the food drive
The number one rule to remember is this: if your donation is perishable, i.e. it’s something that has a limited shelf life if not refrigerated, we won’t accept it. But there are other categories of food that you can’t donate. We’ve broken it all down into this handy list:
- Items needing refrigeration: As we’ve already mentioned, this is the big one. Food like produce, dairy, and meat can spoil easily and we do not have the refrigerator or freezer space needed to keep these items fresh.
- Expired food: When considering what to donate, think about what you’d be comfortable serving your family. Chances are, you don’t eat food that’s past its “use-by” or “sell-by” date, so avoid donating anything past those dates to food programs as it could be unsafe to eat.
- Leftovers: While it may be tempting to want to share the bountiful food from big meals like the Holiday Season, it’s best to keep leftovers for the family. To ensure the people they serve are safe, we can’t accept leftovers or anything made in personal kitchens because they aren’t individually sealed and we can’t verify the ingredients or preparation process.
- Food with packaging concerns: This includes food with damaged packaging such as dented or bloated cans, packaging that is already open, or even items in glass containers, which can shatter and cause food safety concerns for any other food they’re stored near. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t consider buying it new, don’t donate it.
- Baked goods: Similar to leftovers, since we can’t confirm how your baked goods were made or their ingredients, they can’t be donated. But, we often have relationships with local restaurants or bakeries which will donate extra food that is properly labeled and handled to food programs.