It's Thanksgiving week. Is your mouth watering yet? Do you find yourself dreaming of turkeys in anticipation of what's to come? Just remember that so many of our community members also constantly have food on the brain, but for a very different reason. How about showing our thankfulness for all our blessings by spreading the love with those that aren't as fortunate?

The fact is, the holiday season does mark the largest donation time for our local food pantries (yay!), but that also means that shelf and storage space is more limited. (boo!) They have to prioritize and focus on what is needed most.

Here are some of the items food pantries need most according to foodlet.com:

  • Canned meats - Think beyond tuna and soups, pantries get a TON of that. Think canned beef, chicken, salmon, hearty canned stews and chilis.
  • Canned vegetables - Everyone donates green beans, so instead donate some of your families' favorites like carrots, peas, corn, etc. ( Low sodium versions are best)
  • Canned or dried fruit - Except pineapple, they have lots of that too! Cans of fruit in fruit juice without sugar are best. Lots of children will be receiving this food, so healthier options are better.
  • Boxes of rice - Especially brown rice, and bags of rice tear easy.
  • Low Sugar Cereals - Cheerios and Raisin Bran are good examples.
  • Peanut Butter
  • Instant oatmeal and instant grits
  • Cans of beans
  • Whole grain pasta and pasta sauce
  • Biscuit Mixes - or other mixes you just add water to
  • Evaporated or powdered milk - It keeps well in a pantry
  • Snack items for kids - Applesauce, juice boxes, granola bars, etc.
  • Spices - Best bets are oregano, cinnamon, basil, salt, pepper
  • Sliced bread -Yes, it doesn't keep long, but it always goes immediately.
  • Bags of apples and potatoes - Same as bread, it gets picked up fast so no worries of them spoiling.
  • Chocolate - It's not a necessity, but who doesn't feel better when they eat chocolate?
  • Toiletries - Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, lotion, shampoos, chapstick, feminine hygiene products (pads are better than tampons)
  • Diapers - Sizes above newborn and wipes
  • Reusable shopping bags - For some, a trip to the pantry can be humiliating. Carrying home their items in a reusable shopping bags helps to blend in.

Here's a few things I learned about food banks that are very important to keep in mind:

  • A lot of people who come to the pantry have diabetes, so low sugar options are the best.
  • Canned and boxed food is best because the food items get handled a lot before they get distributed. Bags break and split easily.
  • Pop-top cans are ideal, especially for those living on the streets.

I hope we can all do our part to help those in need during this season of giving. For a list of local food pantries to donate to go here.

Happy Holidays!