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S/O Do you donate foods you won't eat in your own home?


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I was reading the Extreme Couponing thread... and this topic came up. I didn't want to hijack over there...

 

If you donate foods to your local food pantry/bank, do you only donate foods that you would eat? Do you donate foods for others to eat that you would never serve in your own home?

 

I know that food can be food when you are hungry. However when we as a society are facing obesity, chronic diseases starting in childhood, are we honestly serving well when we donate food that we feel is inferior?

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Sure. They know what they can use. Some of the clients don't have refrigeration. Some don't even have shelter. Pop top fruit cups are a huge treat for them, and although I would not eat that myself, I'm very happy to provide it to others for whom it is a blessing. Ditto for canned chili from Costco--I make it fresh, and sometimes freeze some, but canned is what people can put right onto their shelves and eat whenever. They need this. I don't.

 

Having said that, when I donate to someone directly, I go for stuff that is a bit more perishable. I try for a good balance--cheese whiz or individually wrapped cheese sticks for protein, whole grain crackers for carbs/protein, fresh fruit in a skin (tangerines, bananas, oranges), and something nutritious to drink--usually Odwalla or something like that.

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My family has eaten food that isn't 'perfect', so sure. What I wouldn't do is buy things I think are harmful if there is a healthy version. Mashed potatoes are staples in food banks, so I donate Barbara's, which doesn't have EDTA. I would buy 100% juice to donate, although I do not buy juice myself. I wouldn't donate drinks with hfcs. I am also not against Mac & Cheese , even if some folks would only serve M & C from scratch. My kids have eaten Annie's, so that is what I donate. I tend to donate items like canned pinto beans, rice, tuna, & peanut butter. They don't need to be organic, since we have eaten non-organics, but I would look for beans without EDTA, boxed brown rice, and PB without hfcs , esp when I see good sales.

Edited by LibraryLover
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We don't eat many canned fruits & vegetables... but I will donate them.

We don't eat many packaged foods (shelf-stable), but I will donate them.

 

Our food pantry has a specific list of items they can take, (not brand-specific, but type specific) so I keep things for that list.

 

People are hungry... and if my family had a choice of eating SOMETHING or eating NOTHING, we'd be eating hamburger helper at $0.25 a box too. (and we have.)

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It would be presumptuous (and somewhat contrary to the notion of "charity"--in other words, is it really charity if I give it with strings and instructions?) if I were to presume that the decisions I make for my family are right for everyone else's. I donate what the agency requests whether I like it or not.

 

Terri

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When I first saw this thread, I thought it would be about donating food that you would throw away otherwise. The expired goods &tc. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the complaint was over nutritious food.

 

Just thought I would give you ladies a little bump. If your biggest 'eek' in donating is the quality of the food, you're all amazing :D

 

(This comes from someone that has been on both sides. Donating/gathering and collecting. I've always been surprised by the amount of useless food. In Scouts we always considered 'Scouting for Food' to be 75% people finally cleaning out their cupboards and us having to throw it away).

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We don't eat many canned foods any more, and what canned foods that are in my pantry are unwanted by the food pantries. I tried to give them away when we moved. The little old lady looked at me like I was nuts because I had canned artichoke hearts, coconut milk, capers. She did take my unopened boxes of pasta though.

 

So when dh's office had a food drive I had to go out and buy canned veg. I bought a flat of green beans and one of those big multi-pak boxes of mac and cheese.

 

If the food pantry accepted frozen I'd give frozen foods.

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Many people have to live in motels or other imperfect places and don't often have access to kitchens, and sometimes not even microwaves. Cooked canned foods can mean being able to feed your child or not. So, canned meats, veggies, stable jarred foods, juice boxes, etc are very important, whether the donor families eats these foods or not. An apple, bread, and peanut butter, or a can of tuna is going to offer good and easy protein without need for storage or heating. I would rather think about a child getting peanut butter without certain additives, esp if that is all they have until the school lunch on Monday.

Edited by LibraryLover
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I run into this issue with personal care products (mostly "good" smelling lotions and bodywash) that I receive as gifts.

 

The thought of throwing them away makes me twitch, but I have trouble donating things I wouldn't put on my own body.

 

I have found that a lot of people like those products but can't afford them. I would donate them.

 

My family has eaten food that isn't 'perfect', so sure. What I wouldn't do is buy things I think are harmful if there is a healthy version. Mashed potatoes are staples in food banks, so I donate Barbara's, which doesn't have EDTA. I would buy 100% juice to donate, although I do not buy juice myself. I wouldn't donate drinks with hfcs. I am also not against Mac & Cheese , even if some folks would only serve M & C from scratch. My kids have eaten Annie's, so that is what I donate. I tend to donate items like canned pinto beans, rice, tuna, & peanut butter. They don't need to be organic, since we have eaten non-organics, but I would look for beans without EDTA, boxed brown rice, and PB without hfcs , esp when I see good sales.

 

What is EDTA?

 

When I first saw this thread, I thought it would be about donating food that you would throw away otherwise. The expired goods &tc. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the complaint was over nutritious food.

 

Just thought I would give you ladies a little bump. If your biggest 'eek' in donating is the quality of the food, you're all amazing :D

 

(This comes from someone that has been on both sides. Donating/gathering and collecting. I've always been surprised by the amount of useless food. In Scouts we always considered 'Scouting for Food' to be 75% people finally cleaning out their cupboards and us having to throw it away).

 

:iagree: :D

 

And having been on both sides, I have to say that while any food was appreciated, things like ww pasta and tuna and beans and 100% juice were even more appreciated than Hamburger Helper and Capri Sun, at least in my house. (Though ds7 would disagree. :tongue_smilie:)

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I don't think we can change other people's eating habits by what we donate or choose not to donate. Do you?

 

 

No, but I would rather make sure what I give isn't harmful. It's only a little bit more to donate real juice, or something without hfcs. But I don't have any issues with donating good quality canned items that might not be staples for us.

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Yes only because we don't eat a lot of processed or canned foods, but that is what the food banks need. I don't buy a lot of canned fruit - we eat mostly fresh, but the food bank needs canned to prevent spoilage. Same with vegetables. We eat fresh or frozen, but they can't use those so I donate canned. They request soups, but I usually make my own chicken noodle or vegetable beef soup so I donate canned ones.

 

I don't donate cookies and things other than graham crackers, which is something my family does eat when I don't have baking done. I also try to donate sugar, flour and baking things.

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I was the collection person one year for my employer's food drive. I was amazed at the number of donations of expired foods.

 

I donate foods that fit the requirements, such as canned or boxed, but I try to donate foods that I think people would actually want to eat, and never anything expired. I do learn towards foods that don't contain HFCS.

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No, but I would rather make sure what I give isn't harmful. It's only a little bit more to donate real juice, or something without hfcs. But I don't have any issues with donating good quality canned items that might not be staples for us.

:iagree: I wouldn't buy "the cheap stuff" just for the food pantry. I see no need to add to the bottom line of those companies who make purple sugar water and call it juice.

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I don't think we can change other people's eating habits by what we donate or choose not to donate. Do you?

 

:iagree:

 

I don't donate expired foods, and do tend to donate things like tuna & peanut butter as food banks probably don't get a lot of those. There isn't anything I wouldn't donate though simply on principle of it being unhealthy or processed.

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If you look around a bit, you might find somewhere that takes fresh stuff as well. There is a local food program run out of a church downtown that actually has a system for that kind of thing. People come for bags of food every week or two, and have ID cards. If someone donates fresh veggies or fruit, they put it in as many bags as possible and note on their card file who got the extras. The next time they have extras, they put them in others' bags.

 

If stuff is too messy, they put it out on the dock on cardboard trays for people to take if they can use it.

 

I don't think this would work for salad greens, but for extra garden produce like carrots, tomatoes, or citrus it's pretty good. I've brought bags of tomatoes there from time to time when I had too many from the garden, and they were gratefully received.

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Yes, my mother's church takes fruit and veggies. They especially ask for potatoes and apples, which tend to last longer than lettuces and such. However many of the folks who come in for the food are thrilled when various fresh fruits and veggies are available. These people are just like all of us; they appreciate good food. Falling on hard times doesn't mean you don't want something that is fresh and delicious.

 

If you look around a bit, you might find somewhere that takes fresh stuff as well. There is a local food program run out of a church downtown that actually has a system for that kind of thing. People come for bags of food every week or two, and have ID cards. If someone donates fresh veggies or fruit, they put it in as many bags as possible and note on their card file who got the extras. The next time they have extras, they put them in others' bags.

 

If stuff is too messy, they put it out on the dock on cardboard trays for people to take if they can use it.

 

I don't think this would work for salad greens, but for extra garden produce like carrots, tomatoes, or citrus it's pretty good. I've brought bags of tomatoes there from time to time when I had too many from the garden, and they were gratefully received.

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I don't think we can change other people's eating habits by what we donate or choose not to donate. Do you?

 

Don't we influence what someone else eats based on what is donated? They can only give out what is donated, either by individuals or corporations. So don't we influence what they eat based on what we give?

 

Our food bank here doesn't have an approved list of what is accepted (other than "canned goods and non-perishables"). Probably because there are more people that accept than give, especially right now.

 

But do we separate ourselves more as "us vs them" when we buy one quality item for ourselves, and another quality item for them, when given a choice between two acceptable like items?

 

Note: I'm not talking simply buying generic vs brand, as I have found that often time generic items contain less salt and less additives than brand name items.

 

My children understand why we buy canned ravioli for the food pantry, but we don't put it on our shelves, from a standpoint of accessibility (can eat it cold right out of the can if you need to). However I have a very hard time justifying to them why we would buy two like items, and decide that one is "better" for us, but we will donate the other item for the food pantry.

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When I first saw this thread, I thought it would be about donating food that you would throw away otherwise. The expired goods &tc. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the complaint was over nutritious food.

 

Just thought I would give you ladies a little bump. If your biggest 'eek' in donating is the quality of the food, you're all amazing :D

 

(This comes from someone that has been on both sides. Donating/gathering and collecting. I've always been surprised by the amount of useless food. In Scouts we always considered 'Scouting for Food' to be 75% people finally cleaning out their cupboards and us having to throw it away).

 

that is what I thought this thread was about too. So glad to see this too.

And I was thinking my response would be of course not ~ I wouldn't donate something I wouldn't eat as in old/expired/gross. But after reading it I have to say yes I donate things I wouldn't eat given a choice. But I still prefer to donate things I would eat.

 

But I have a fridge and an oven. And fresh/perishable items aren't helpful for those who don't. So I donate what they need.

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Yes, our food pantry just needs food so people do not go hungry, so I buy whatever I can get cheap to donate. Our budget is tight, but I do want to help those in need. I would buy food we don't normally eat if we were struggling just to keep us fed, so I figure most other people would also.

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I do donate food that we won't eat. That's why I donate it, because it would go to waste if we didn't. Sometimes we purchase something the family doesn't care for, or my MIL brings foods we don't eat and puts them in our pantry so I donate those foods when the Scouts or the mailman come around.

 

But I don't deliberately purchase things I wouldn't eat in order to donate them. Instead, we donate money to the local food bank. They have started gardens so that they can provide fresh food to the hungry, and we often specifically request that our donation go to the garden program. (I love this program! They hire "at-risk" youth to farm and run a produce stand, grow the veg for a CSA program and provide fresh produce to the hungry. Teens learn business skills and nutrition, and see the results of their hard work help others; CSA members get delicious organic produce; there's lots of fresh veg for the food program. Win-win-win.)

 

Cat

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When people go to a food pantry, they're typically in a crisis mode and are focused on survival, not bettering their eating habits. So, yes, I donate foods I wouldn't normally buy for myself. I prefer fresh or frozen foods, few boxes, few prepared items. However, that's not practical for most food pantries, so I donate canned and boxed items. No food pantry here asks for fresh produce.

 

At the food drive at work, I took in bags of canned beans, boxes of instant oatmeal packets, canned fruit, bottles of shampoo, bars of soap, and toothpaste. Most of the things I donate are bought with store coupons from a local grocery store. The items are the "loss leaders" and typically include some canned and boxed items. None are expired or bad in any way, they just aren't foods I normally buy.

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I used to think this way, too,......and then I started working in a shelter.

 

One day I told my boss, after organizing a LOT of donations (shampoo, toothbrushes, etc.) that I ''just wanted to throw away those douches because they are SO BAD for women and aren't we supposed to be helping women?!" and she said,"If a woman who has just been raped feels like THAT is going to make her feel better....then who am I to not give her that?" It was good food for thought.

 

I am not there to teach them, lecture them, get them to eat healthier. I am there to EMPOWER them and it is not empowering to feel like someone is trying to foist their opinions on you.

 

I know that no one is talking about lecturing people in shelters or anything, but people in crisis situations need comfort and if comfort to them means Oreos, Poptarts, etc then so be it.

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I was reading the Extreme Couponing thread... and this topic came up. I didn't want to hijack over there...

 

If you donate foods to your local food pantry/bank, do you only donate foods that you would eat? Do you donate foods for others to eat that you would never serve in your own home?

 

I know that food can be food when you are hungry. However when we as a society are facing obesity, chronic diseases starting in childhood, are we honestly serving well when we donate food that we feel is inferior?

 

Yes but not inferior. I've tried my hand at tamale making and will probably never do it again. However, b/c we have a large hispanic population, I often donate masa harina and other traditionally hispanic food items that I wouldn't necessarily eat.

 

Also peanut butter. We're not peanut butter ppl but we often donate it along with canned soups and other canned items that we normally eat homemade. Well, I do consider the soup inferior to homemade but that is just what they'll take.

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That's a sticky situation for me. I haven't read that thread, but I have been able to get food free or cheap, that I've donated. Recently I got pasta for nine cents a box. After I put aside a reasonable amount for my family, I gave some to family and friends, and donated some to a local food pantry.

 

I've donated canned pasta (such as Chefboyardee), boxed potatoes, and packaged noodle mixes. I try to donate things like canned fruit and vegatables, canned tuna, whole grain snacks, etc. But sometimes I donate things we wouldn't eat. I've done it because it was given to us and we don't eat it, or because I got an amazing price for it.

 

I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't like encouraging poor eating habits, but like you said food is food. When someone is hungry, it's difficult to be picky. I know. My mother had been in that situation at times when I was a child. You don't want to see your children hungry. You feed your children. You fill them up.

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I am not there to teach them, lecture them, get them to eat healthier. I am there to EMPOWER them and it is not empowering to feel like someone is trying to foist their opinions on you.

 

 

But I guess that is what I am getting at... Do we empower people with the foods we donate, or are we giving them the cheapest foods that we can get because we have coupons for them? Is that empowering them?

 

Many people will tell you that the food they eat has an impact on how they feel, how they function. Yes, there is comfort food, which can look like many different things to different people. Yes, there are things people do and don't like to eat.

 

WIC determines what food can be purchased. They determine that certain cereals can be purchased, and not others. Because they make those determinations, does that mean those women and children are not empowered because their choices are limited in order to improve their nutritional intake? (Yes, you must have a nutritional deficit in addition to a financial need to qualify for WIC.)

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I don't think it's inferior--it's just the issue of shelf life. Fresh food cannot be donated. Frozen food cannot be donated. Nearly all our food is fresh or frozen. We eat very little canned. However, if I go on a camping trip, I will take different goods than we usually eat, too, because of the lack of refrigeration. I don't see the difference.

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But I guess that is what I am getting at... Do we empower people with the foods we donate, or are we giving them the cheapest foods that we can get because we have coupons for them? Is that empowering them?

 

 

I think that those are separate issues. I don't believe that it is DIS-empowering to donate food that was bought with a coupon/less nutritious.

 

So, to answer your question, YES, I believe that it is still empowering to donate food that people are more likely to eat.

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But I guess that is what I am getting at... Do we empower people with the foods we donate, or are we giving them the cheapest foods that we can get because we have coupons for them? Is that empowering them?

 

Many people will tell you that the food they eat has an impact on how they feel, how they function. Yes, there is comfort food, which can look like many different things to different people. Yes, there are things people do and don't like to eat.

 

WIC determines what food can be purchased. They determine that certain cereals can be purchased, and not others. Because they make those determinations, does that mean those women and children are not empowered because their choices are limited in order to improve their nutritional intake? (Yes, you must have a nutritional deficit in addition to a financial need to qualify for WIC.)

 

I dunno. I'm not trying to empower anyone; I am just trying to help them have a meal tonight. And if a coupon allows me to do that, then so be it.

 

I don't think in a food-pantry situation there is the luxury of educating people on proper food choices. Again, it's a crisis situation. WIC, otoh, imo, isn't, and is the proper time to offer that education. WIC is a supplemental food program, not necessarily a solution in a crisis situation.

 

If someone I knew, say someone at church, for example, was in need of groceries, I'd definitely give them fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, because I know those items wouldn't be sitting in a warehouse somewhere rotting. I'd give a food pantry applesauce; I'd give an actual person in need a bag of apples.

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I think the questions being raised in this thread are good ones - about whether the method of charity encourages poor nutrition, for example. But in a practical daily sort of way, like others, I feel like if I happen to end up with nonperishable food that we're not likely to eat as a family (because I bought too much, because I don't make the one recipe that I make that calls for that canned good very often or something like that) then if an opportunity arises, then I absolutely donate that food - it feels like a waste not to. If I buy specifically to donate, then I buy either what's requested or the pantry items that I find most useful for us - especially beans, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, etc. - which are versatile and can be used however a family wishes, giving more choice. Our church specifically requests organic and local donations when possible.

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But I guess that is what I am getting at... Do we empower people with the foods we donate, or are we giving them the cheapest foods that we can get because we have coupons for them? Is that empowering them?

 

Many people will tell you that the food they eat has an impact on how they feel, how they function. Yes, there is comfort food, which can look like many different things to different people. Yes, there are things people do and don't like to eat.

 

WIC determines what food can be purchased. They determine that certain cereals can be purchased, and not others. Because they make those determinations, does that mean those women and children are not empowered because their choices are limited in order to improve their nutritional intake? (Yes, you must have a nutritional deficit in addition to a financial need to qualify for WIC.)

 

I think we're getting into an order of Maslow's Heirarchy that isn't attainable when basic, physiological needs aren't being met.

 

One can't be truly "empowered" when they have an empty stomach, or feel unsafe. Having food enables them to get to a place they can become "empowered."

 

If we start arguing about what food (other than expired foods) it would be best to donate (because they are organic, or have fewer preservatives, etc.) vs. what people who have some means have the ability to donate, we run the risk of significantly reducing the amount of food available.

 

None of the food I donate isn't something that I *wouldn't* consume if our circumstances were different. In fact, I have fed it to my family during extremely lean times. It was a choice of eating or not eating.

 

However, simply because I am in a position now of feeding my family better foods, does not mean I have the ability to donate to that same level. If we did, the amount we could donate would go down significantly.

 

FWIW, I do try to choose as healthy options as I can (for example, GM cereal coupons I get plain Cheerios, vs. higher sugar options). And, I'm not above grabbing some toaster strudel for the family, when I can get it practically free... whereas I haven't purchased Pop Tarts in years. But no matter if the TP is free, dh won't use anything other than Charmin... but I can donate as much of the individually-wrapped FREE tp all I want (any guesses what is essentially FREE at Rite Aid this week????)

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So, my answer would be yes. People who need the services are often in a short-term crisis situation and don't have time or the facilities to cook from scratch or be concerned with optimum nutrition. I don't have a problem with that. We have one local mobile food pantry that does include produce. For long-term situations, I'd like to see my town promote a community garden.

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Our local food pantry only accepts shelf-stable items. They also distribute fruits and veggies that they get from Wal-Mart that are almost out of date.

 

A lady from our church was going through hard times. Our church took up donations. Together we gave a van load of food. Our family gave sugar, flour, pasta etc.-things they could cook what they with. She called me the day after it was given and said they got more than they could use, and she didn't cook so would we be willing to take some of what they would not use. We got the rice, beans, flour, sugar, pasta, etc. They kept Pop-Tarts, Mac and Cheese, canned goods and junk. It kind of taught me a lesson that you can give someone the tools to cook nutritious food, but that doesn't mean they will use them. Now I usually buy the Chef Boyardee and other canned items. At least the people asking for them will use them.

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and I will say that the people in charge have some very warped ideas of what good food is. Any canned beans that are not baked beans are "ethnic" and so were the 25lb bags of rice somebody donated - they were foisted off on some "foreigners" (latin americans) who were extremely happy to get them. I guess since we eat things like chickpeas and beans and rice we must be foreigners too. I'd rather donate things that we eat, but they don't really want them.

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When I was working with MICA clients, they had to attend weekly nutrition classes that were a total farce. Here the clients were told to "eat healthy foods," such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grain breads, pure water.... the sky is blue, the grass is green, we all love rainbows.... Then the meal truck would come to deliver lunch:

 

  • Hot dogs on white buns
  • Corn chips
  • Dead vegetables
  • Soda pop

Some of the brighter clients would complain, "Hey, Social Worker Lady, you tell us in Nutrition Class not to eat this sh!t, and then you go and serve it to us."

 

I think the poor know their food is of poor quality, and they HATE this. They hate the way the crappy food makes them feel, on every level.

 

I think they would eat fresh produce and healthy proteins and better grains -- if given the choice and the encouragement. My two cents.

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Yes, my mother's church takes fruit and veggies. They especially ask for potatoes and apples, which tend to last longer than lettuces and such. However many of the folks who come in for the food are thrilled when various fresh fruits and veggies are available. These people are just like all of us; they appreciate good food. Falling on hard times doesn't mean you don't want something that is fresh and delicious.

:iagree:

 

And as far as canned/packaged food goes, there are people who will very much appreciate being able to choose a can of black beans over a can of Chef Boyardee, natural peanut butter over Skippy, or whole wheat pasta over white. Coconut milk is wonderful for people who can't eat dairy, which tends to be available in abundance at food banks, but is kind of useless if you're not able to eat it.

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:iagree:

 

And as far as canned/packaged food goes, there are people who will very much appreciate being able to choose a can of black beans over a can of Chef Boyardee, natural peanut butter over Skippy, or whole wheat pasta over white. Coconut milk is wonderful for people who can't eat dairy, which tends to be available in abundance at food banks, but is kind of useless if you're not able to eat it.

 

No kidding. If I fell on hard times I would be so appreciative to be able to prepare a wholesome meal for my family. I mean, thing are already bad and bad food can only make it worse.

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