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I donate regularly to one run by a church close to our house. Usually canned fruits/veggies I find on sale, food from our Angel Food we won't be able to eat, etc. Occasionally I will get a great price on canned meat (chicken or tuna) and will give those as well.

A couple of months in a row now, I have also donated one or two "cookie" bags - chocolate chips, flour, brown and granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. I thought with the holidays coming up, someone would be able to add butter and eggs and have homemade cookies for themselves and their families.

The items were very well recieved by the pantry (and they didn't replace regular food items - these were "extras" I had bought on sale and wouldn't be able to use, since half of T's family is on diets).

I was also told the pantry appreciates "complete" meals - so in addition to a case of green beans from Sam's, canned soups donated with a box of crackers will give someone *meals*, instead of just ingredients. If you are going to give pasta sauce, throw in some noodles, that sort of thing. From what I can recall helping the food pantry my church ran as a kid, the volunteers usually end up digging into their own meager pockets to supplement the offerings. How nice would it be to hand a family a grocery bag or two with 4 complete meals they could make? Instead of them (or the volunteers) having to scrounge up noodles or crackers or whatever, they would already be there.

Please don't just give the food pantries in your area random things lying on your shelf - regularly look for items on sale that you can donate, regular items. People who need to use food pantries are real people, with real families - and they deserve a decent meal and all the memories family dinners afford.

Certainly go for volume when possible - but remember that's not just canned items, but dry goods as well.

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