How to Donate Food

There are many organizations that operate food banks locally, nationally and internationally. With larger numbers of the world's population falling into poverty and dealing with hunger, governments, churches and charitable organizations are struggling to meet the need of people who do not have enough food. Donate food by determining where the need is greatest, and giving all the food you can to people and organizations who help feed the hungry.


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    Determine where the need is. Many people prefer to give locally, or you can help feed people around the country and the world.
    • Check with your church or the local school system for opportunities to donate food in your local community. They will either take your donation themselves, or refer you to an agency that needs it.
    • Get referrals from organizations such as Feeding America or Heifer International to donate food in the poorest areas of the country and the world.
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    Ask local food banks what they need. Sometimes there is a shortage of one type of food and an abundance of others.
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    Participate in grocery store food drives. Some retailers ask you to donate a bag of food to families in need at the time that you are paying for your own groceries. The food is already packaged up and costs range from $5 to $20.
    • Deposit groceries that you want to donate into bins and barrels that some grocery stores place near the store exit, if they do not provide pre-packaged bags of food for you to donate.
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    Clean nonperishable food out of your own pantry. Go through your cupboards and collect boxes, cans, jars and bottles of food that you do not need.
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    Shop specifically for donations. If you were able to get a list of items that a food bank needs, go to your local store and stock up on the items.
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    Check expiration dates on the food. You do not want to donate food that is past or nearing its expiration date. Make sure you are at least 6 months within the date of expiration.
    • Look for quality and pack dates as well. Some foods will be labeled "best if used by" before providing a date. Donate food that is within 6 months of that date as well, so the food does not lose its flavor or taste when it is eaten.
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    Make sure the packaging does not look tampered with. Make sure there are no major dents in canned items, and be sure nothing is leaking from the package.
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    Drop off the food in designated places at designated times. Many food banks and churches collect items on certain days and times. Ask them for this information before you arrive.
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    Ask if fresh food can be donated. Most people donate nonperishable food easily, but there is still a need for meat and dairy products.
    • Speak to someone at the place you would like to donate any fresh food. Make sure they can take the donation. Soup kitchens in your area might be most likely to use fresh food, since they can use it immediately to serve hungry people.
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    Consider making a cash donation, or donating your time. In addition to donating food, think about whether you can meet other needs by volunteering your time at a food bank or soup kitchen.
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    Donate food to the people close to you. If you have a neighbor or family member who is out of work or recovering from a major illness, bring over dinner or offer to do some grocery shopping for them.


  • Try to donate food all year long. Most people focus their charitable efforts around holiday time, but people do not stop being hungry during the non-holiday months.
  • Consider donating food to groups that help feed people with food allergies. Organizations such as and collect specific foods that will not harm children and adults who have allergies.

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Categories: Volunteer and Community Service