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What should you donate to your food pantry?

woman handing someone a can of food
What should you donate to your food pantry?

By Halley Molstad, CD, RD, Gundersen Nutrition Therapy

Healthier choices for the food pantry and your home pantry!

Good nutrition is important for disease management, proper growth and development and for general wellness. Populations using emergency food resources are often disproportionately affected by chronic health problems and may be managing chronic disease on a limited budget. Donating nutritious foods can have a huge impact in the health of the individuals using the food pantry.

Consider donating these foods to your local food pantry:

  • Peanut butter (if possible shelf-stable natural peanut butter)
  • Canned fruits in their own juice or light syrup
  • Canned tuna in water, salmon, sardines, or chicken
  • Canned or dry beans: black, kidney, chickpeas, fat-free re-fried beans, etc.
  • Pasta sauce and salsa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain breakfast cereals
  • Bulk oatmeal (less desirable: flavored oatmeal packets)
  • Canned healthy versions of soups and stews (pull tab containers are helpful for the elderly)
  • Quinoa, barley, spelt or other shelf-stable whole grains
  • Whole wheat or corn tortillas
  • A variety of canned vegetables without added salt
  • Canned diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
  • Low-fat, low-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • Shelf-stable soy, almond or rice milk (typically found in the organic section of the grocery store)
  • Spices: dried herbs, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

Contact your local food pantry to find out what they need.




Monetary donations are also appreciated and sometimes food banks have agreements with grocery stores that allow them to get more bang for their buck.

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