Have you noticed the Champions of Hope table outside church on Sundays? You usually find it right at the entrance. Occasionally, you see shopping bags with cans in them underneath the table.
The “How to” of Donating to the Champions of Hope Food Bank
It’s easy. Bag non-perishable food items and bring them to the Champions of Hope table. Let Rick, Donna, or Julia (or whoever may be working at the table) know that you have a food donation. That’s it.
What NOT to Donate to the Food Bank
The question of “what” to donate is a bit harder. Let’s start with a list of things you shouldn’t bring.
- Expired or expiring food. When packaged for consumption, manufacturers put a “use by” date on their products. Don’t bring food past or near its expiration date.
- Processed foods high in sugar, salt, or fat. Frequently, folks struggling with food insecurity may have health problems that too much salt, sugar, and fat make worse.
- Glass jars. Glass is prone to breakage. (And nothing ruins cardboard boxes of cereal and oatmeal faster than pickle juice.)
- Cake mix. Often, you need eggs, milk, and oil to make the products. Even if it is a “just add water” item, remember that not everyone has a cake pan.
- Costco-sized sacks of rice. The folks running the pantry out of their garage cannot re-package the rice for individuals and families.
- Anything you wouldn’t serve your own family. If you wouldn’t set it in front of your children at lunchtime, don’t foist it off on someone else.
Here is What You SHOULD Donate
- Protein: Canned tuna, chicken, and beans are ideal. Unsalted nuts are another high-protein product. Peanut butter in a plastic jar works well. Add powdered milk to the mix.
- Fiber. Low-sodium varieties of canned, mixed vegetables and soups are excellent options. When choosing mixed fruit, select cans or plastic jars that feature fruit juice, not heavy syrup, as the preserving liquid of choice (lower sugar content!). Whole-grain pasta, brown rice, and instant oatmeal are also great options. Include low-sugar cereals and low-fat/low-sodium granola bars.
- Drinks. Juice boxes are ideal for families with children. Adults like them, too. But pick the ones that contain 100 percent juice; the other products are sugar water.
- Holiday favorites. If you’re donating near the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, include canned pumpkins, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Add boxes of stuffing to the mix.
- Condiments. Salt, pepper, hot sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, and soy sauce can turn plenty of food bank staples into tasty meals. Don’t go too exotic on the spices, though. Not too many folks know what to do with candied ginger or fenugreek. Remember also to include vegetable oil.
(If you want to learn more about the Greater Long Beach Champions of Hope, visit them on Facebook or stop by the aforementioned table on Sunday!)