What Do Food Banks Actually Need?

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When we think of what food banks need, many of us think of canned goods and non-perishable items. However, the answer is more nuanced than it appears, as the reality is that food banks have specific needs that go beyond the basics. As an organization committed to the well-being of seniors, we at FSL understand the importance of donating items that not only fill bellies but also nourish souls.

What Items Do Food Banks Need Most?

According to Feeding America, food banks often require:

  • Peanut butter
  • Canned soup
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned stew
  • Canned fish
  • Canned beans
  • Pasta (preferably whole grain)
  • Rice (preferably brown rice)

These items are shelf-stable and can be stored for extended periods. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the food hasn’t reached its “sell-by” date. Learn more about our Call for Compassion campaign to understand how you can make a difference.

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FSL's Food Pantry in Wickenburg supports thousands of local families each year.

Personal Care and Household Items

Some food banks also accept personal care and household items, like paper towels, toilet paper, soap, cleaning supplies, and more. Families struggling with hunger often can’t afford these essentials, which aren’t covered by food assistance programs like SNAP.

Donations to Avoid

While your intentions may be good, not all items are suitable for donation. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Perishable Items: Food banks generally do not have the capacity to store items that require refrigeration.
  • Expired Food: Always check the “use-by” or “sell-by” date before donating.
  • Leftovers and Homemade Goods: Due to safety concerns, these are not accepted.
  • Damaged Packaging: Items with dented or bloated cans, or open packaging, should be avoided.

For more insights, check out our “Holidays Are for Giving” initiative.

The Value of Monetary Donations

While food and item donations are invaluable, cash donations often provide the most significant impact. Monetary contributions allow food banks to purchase items in bulk, thereby saving on costs and providing more meals. For example, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank can provide 100 meals for a $25 donation, compared to 15 meals if you were to buy canned soup worth $25.

Why Donating Cash Matters

  • Greater Flexibility: Monetary donations can be used where they are needed most.
  • Bulk Purchasing: Food banks can buy items at wholesale prices.
  • Nutritional Value: Cash allows food banks to purchase fresh produce and other nutritious items.

Learn how you can help provide healthy food for all those who need it.

Fill FSL’s Food Pantries by Donating to Our Amazon Wish List

We invite you to make a difference in the lives of seniors and families in need by supporting FSL’s food pantries by donating items from our Amazon Wish List! Your contributions, whether in-kind or monetary, are more than just donations — they are investments in the well-being of our community.

By understanding what items food banks need most, you can make a meaningful contribution. Let’s work together to ensure that our donations inspire recipients to live healthy lives with dignity.

Donor - St. Mary's ( FSL staff Lory & Tatumn) 2
We are so grateful for these monthly deliveries of hope from St. Mary's Food Bank

About FSL

For more information on how to join us in reducing hospital readmissions, we encourage you to explore our ACTIVATE program further and get involved in the effort to foster healthier communities. You can also call us at 602-406-2374 to learn more about ACTIVATE! Together, we can tackle the issue of hospital readmissions and make a difference in the lives of our fellow citizens.

Established in 1974, the Foundation for Senior Living is dedicated to providing integrated, customized care for those who need it in the Phoenix area. We offer a wide range of home- and community-based services, including:

All of these are designed to enable Arizonans of all ages to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. If you or someone you know is struggling to have their needs met, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you. And if you’re able, consider donating or volunteering your time to our mission. We can’t wait to work with you!

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