Food pantries experience shortages about this time of year. More families turn to pantries to help meet basic needs because the families’ resources have been spent getting children ready for school. It won’t take a large commitment of your time to help, just willingness.
Organize a food drive at work, school, church, at a club or organization meeting, or maybe in your neighborhood. This is an activity that can pull all ages together for a common cause. If each person you approached gave just one can of food, the pantry shelves would not be empty.
Remember to keep food donations simple and include easy-to-prepare items. Canned fruits, vegetables and canned tuna, salmon and chicken are always a good option. Fruit juices and breakfast cereals (hot and cold) are nutritious. Who doesn’t appreciate a hot bowl of soup on a cold day? Donations of canned soup are appreciated. Don’t forget to include a box of crackers.
Peanut butter is definitely a staple in my pantry and a good source of protein. What about a bag of pasta and a can of pasta sauce? Kids love those canned spaghetti dishes like Spaghetti O’s.
Boxed meals like Hamburger or Tuna Helper make a nice addition to a pantry. Packaged rice and potato dishes are always good. Flour, sugar, evaporated milk, salt, and pepper are staples that most kitchens can use. Babies are part of our families. Contributions of baby food and canned formula are always welcome.
The other thing to be aware of is that families on food stamps cannot purchase personal care items, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper, Kleenex or paper towels. They come to pantries for these items. If every person at work or church brought just one bar of soap what an effect that would make on a pantry and the lives of the pantry clients.
What can you do to help our local pantries meet the ever-present needs of families in our community? When you go to work, suggest that each employee bring one pantry staple to contribute. When you attend your church meeting, suggest that you ask each member of the congregation to bring one personal care item to church next Sunday. These are simple things that we as community can do. Our contribution to a local pantry will help fill the empty shelves. If you need suggestions of local pantries to receive your collected goods, give me a call.
For more information on how you can give, advocate and volunteer, contact me at 913-371-3674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out the website, www.unitedway-wyco.org and click on Volunteer.
Diane Hentges is director of the Volunteer Center at the United Way of Wyandotte County.