Date: 2011-11-12 03:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebeccafiddler.livejournal.com
Comments below are based on my own experiences with food banks in Missouri and Kansas.

In the past, the food pantries with which we have dealt generally have had lists of items that they specifically need or get regular requests for - while special-needs items may be something that some clients could use, the pantries often do not have space to store the extra things. Non-food items may also create storage difficulties, so I wait for lists before donating such.

Cash donated to pantries generally is used directly by the pantry to cover operating costs or to purchase perishable items on an as-needed basis. I don't know of any food pantries that accept gift cards; most do not offer cash or 'cash equivalents' to their clients (because of the possibility of such being used for things like liquor or cigarettes or other items that can be resold to generate cash for illegal drug purchases). If a value-based donation is handed out, it usually is in the form of a grocery store gift certificate that has restrictions on what items can be purchased with it.

Pet needs are certainly an item that might be useful, but, again, some food banks do not have the necessary storage space, as bags of dog and cat food take up a lot of space, I would check with the specific agency before donating such.

And time and service is generally very acceptable; there may be schedule issues, based on when the pantry receives bulk donations.

Date: 2011-11-12 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebeccafiddler.livejournal.com
Gah...

Please ignore the grammar and punctuation errors; I do not seem to be able to type very well these days...

Date: 2011-11-12 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] just-the-ash.livejournal.com
Psst. "Pantry." I have yet to check out my local food bank on this issue, but there are lots of things my panties don't offer.

LOL

Date: 2011-11-12 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zianuray.livejournal.com
Too late to edit, it'll just have to stand!

Date: 2011-11-12 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brujah.livejournal.com
When I moved in with my first husband, a church pantry fed us when we had absolutely nothing. They gave me feminine needs because I didn't have those either. They didn't make me feel shamed for asking for help and I promised the gentleman across from me that if I was ever in the position to pay it forward, I would.

Several years passed before I was able to keep my word, but when I got my first 'real pay check' after my divorce, I went to Kroger and I bought uncooked pasta, a couple of cases of canned vegetables and fruit, and two boxes each of tampons and pads. It wasn't much in light of how much they need, but they helped me when I had nothing.

Charities here tend to leave a little bag in the mail slot, asking for clothing or canned goods. You put what you can in the bag and put it outside your door and they're collected on the day stated on the bag.

*edit: (I give up on trying to edit my spelling and syntax. *facepalm*)
Edited Date: 2011-11-12 11:34 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-11-13 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] featherynscale.livejournal.com
When I donate food, I almost always donate to Harvesters, which is not a lot like the traditional "food pantry" - people don't get to go in and "shop" for groceries, Harvesters delivers large boxes of stuff to families, smaller food pantries, non-profit residential programs, and so on. I have done a handful of packing shifts there, putting together these boxes. As far as I am aware, they don't do special diet boxes, or anything like that. (And I think that because I've certainly packed soy butter in with peanut butter, and rice flour pasta in with wheat pasta, and so on.)

Anyway, my experience as a volunteer there has changed my donation habits a bit. When I've been a packer, it always seems like they're low on protein-rich foods, so I'm now more likely to give beans, tuna, canned meat, or peanut butter than to give things like canned veg or pasta - that stuff, there's always plenty of. I also started giving things like toilet paper and other household goods, because they do distributions of that stuff, but I don't think as many people know that they need that stuff as know they need food.

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