Normally people can expect to find:
- cans of vegetables, fruits soups and beans
- peanut butter & jelly
- pancake mix and sugar free syrup
- bread (donated by Panera Bread!)
- margarine and cheese slices
- meat items (which are most consistently chicken nuggets, bologna & hot dogs)
- rice, pasta, potato box mixes - lots of mac & cheese
- pasta & sauce
- a choice of treats which varies greatly - can be anything from candy to crackers to cookies or raisins
- a little toilet paper, a small jug of laundry detergent
- a small can of chicken or tuna
- one personal item - like a toothbrush, toothpaste, paper towels, tissues, bar of soap - per family
- cat or dog food
- once in a while there will be eggs
Sometimes there can be other things, but this is the norm. Things not normally found:
- spices, even salt & pepper
- flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder
- feminine products
- real butter
- real cheese
- cooking oil
- whole wheat pasta (people who need this are very excited if they can find one)
- cream soups - especially cream of mushroom
- chocolate - candy or for baking - even cake/brownie mixes
- food for any pet other than cats/dogs
During the month of November everyone will also get instant potatoes, stuffing mix, canned cranberry sauce, a turkey breast, canned yams, and a can of gravy - there may be something else, or something less, but this is typical.
Think about the things you reach for every day from toilet paper and tissues, toothpaste, soap and shampoo, to sugar, flour, butter, oil and spices and consider buying some extra for people who would really appreciate it. And believe me, people are appreciative.
You know those small things which come in the mail, are handed out in goody bags, come from hotels and the dentist, are a gift with purchase, etc? Those are always great! Any trial size/travel size/sample size is always welcome in addition to the typical canned and boxed foods.
I am committing to a cozy-at-home November, which means I will be cooking every night in November. We enjoy a nice trip to a restaurant, carry-out and delivery as much as the next guy, but we also enjoy delicious meals prepared at home. While we are saving money we would have spent dining out, I pledge to make more generous donations to our local food pantry.
I challenge you to give a little extra this November and December, too. How will you do it?