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athomeontheprairie

How do you feel about food banks?

  

285 members have voted

  1. 1. Should food banks be available?

    • Yes, no questions asked
      208
    • Yes, with questions asked
      42
    • Yes, but users must submit documentation proving need
      18
    • Yes, but with strict limits on use
      4
    • Yes, but only for those with.... (please specify the requirement)
      0
    • No, people who use them should get a job
      0
    • No, people shouldn't ask for a hand out
      0
    • No, if they have children and can't feed them, take away the kids
      0
    • No
      0
    • Required other
      13


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You know I have always wondered about that. I'm not into trash at the thrift store, where people drop off old mismatched socks or stained/ripped clothes; but used clothes in good condition are fine for plenty of families including my own - why would they not be acceptable for the food bank?

 

I figure maybe it's a cleanliness thing, but you'd expect that to be a problem with Salvation Army or Value Village too, but they somehow manage just fine.

 

It's a minor thing but that sort of attitude always bothered me a bit when my own kids are dressed in hand me downs but good quality ones aren't suitable for someone in greater need than us? That's just one of those things we couldn't do, but I suppose other families could manage it. Just donating money or food to the food pantry is still something very important even if some things other types of donations might be out of reach.

I think it was the attitude of the woman who answered the phone that really got to me.  She acted like it was disgusting that I wanted to bring by used clothing.  

 

So I did some more digging on the place.  The same church that hosts them also has a thift shop.  Interesting that the church will take in used clothing but they won't.

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Got a interesting one for you- I found out that there is a food bank near me that was needing some winter clothes and such.  I called today to ask if I could bring by some like new coats, boots and such that my kids had outgrown.  I was told that they only accept new clothing with tags. 

 

This is another reason I support charities running their charity however they want (obviously as long as they are running it like a charity of course, helping those who need help, you get the idea.)  To me, it's obvious that this charity has had a problem with donations coming in that not in good condition.  So they set a rule that all donations have to be brand new.  That's how they chose to solve the problem of crappy donations.  On the other side of the coin, if a charity finds that in their particular area, people clearing out their formula and selling it on CL is a problem, they should be able to choose to limit how many cans people can take if that's how they choose to address the problem.  If a church runs into a problem where they know particular church members are not in need, but taking food from the pantry just to be cheap, they should be able to choose to address that problem by requiring some sort of verification...if that's what they choose. 

 

This country is huge.  It's the second most populous in the world.  And the problems in this country vary all across the country.  What's a problem in one area might not be a problem in another.  So I think charities should be able to run themselves as they see it necessary to fit the needs and situations in their community.  I don't think it's fair to say that all charities should run the same, when a charity in Portland might have no problems at all, but a charity in Phoenix might have issues where they are running out of food by 9am because someone is coming in and cleaning them out every week.  Or whatever. 

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Got a interesting one for you- I found out that there is a food bank near me that was needing some winter clothes and such. I called today to ask if I could bring by some like new coats, boots and such that my kids had outgrown. I was told that they only accept new clothing with tags.

I was told that the winter clothes were going to foster children and other children in need so new clothing with tags would be good for the children's self esteem versus hand me downs.

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But I'm surprised about your fruit not being accepted.  I've brought tomatoes from my garden to our local outlet, and they were glad to get them.  (Maybe because they knew me and when I said I had just picked them that morning they knew it was true--so maybe they made an exception.  I'm not sure.)  Much of the produce that we get from the food bank and their Salvation Army outlet is boxed in open crates, with no plastic wrap or lids, so it doesn't seem 'originally wrapped' but maybe that meets the definition.  Locally there is also a charity that picks fruit from homeowners' yard trees and brings it to the food bank.  

 

Also, for several years our local newspaper had a program called "Plant a Row for the Hungry".  They encouraged those who were putting in vegetable gardens to grow extra to donate to the local food bank.  They would send those who registered a few packets of seeds, and asked for stats and/or pictures back at the end of the season.  It was very popular.

 

 

 

I love the "plant an extra row" idea. I do not need to plant anything extra though. I've been blessed with Grapefruit, Avocados, Almonds and Oranges, especially oranges.

Maybe I need to call several places, like the women's shelter etc., and see if I either misunderstood or someone else misunderstood the regs when communicating them to me.

 

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I was told that the winter clothes were going to foster children and other children in need so new clothing with tags would be good for the children's self esteem versus hand me downs.

Besides this, there's a large cost to charities that don't sell fabric by the the pound in processing and sorting through useful and unuseful donations. Some people donate gently used items with lots of life left. Others, on hearing a request for coats for teenagers bring in their old lady full length coats from 1978. I ran a family services organization. People would leave crap on the steps when I wasn't there to say thanks but no thanks and then they would subsequently call, describe the items and without an ounce of shame ask for a tax receipt. So, you know, they could itemize as a deduction the garbage that I had to pay money to dispose of. Once during a children's clothing drive I received unwashed lingerie. That is just one example of the junk people would actually "donate."

 

This is why agencies sometimes just make blanket policies like "new items only".

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This is another reason I support charities running their charity however they want (obviously as long as they are running it like a charity of course, helping those who need help, you get the idea.)  To me, it's obvious that this charity has had a problem with donations coming in that not in good condition.  So they set a rule that all donations have to be brand new.  That's how they chose to solve the problem of crappy donations.  On the other side of the coin, if a charity finds that in their particular area, people clearing out their formula and selling it on CL is a problem, they should be able to choose to limit how many cans people can take if that's how they choose to address the problem.  If a church runs into a problem where they know particular church members are not in need, but taking food from the pantry just to be cheap, they should be able to choose to address that problem by requiring some sort of verification...if that's what they choose. 

 

This country is huge.  It's the second most populous in the world.  And the problems in this country vary all across the country.  What's a problem in one area might not be a problem in another.  So I think charities should be able to run themselves as they see it necessary to fit the needs and situations in their community.  I don't think it's fair to say that all charities should run the same, when a charity in Portland might have no problems at all, but a charity in Phoenix might have issues where they are running out of food by 9am because someone is coming in and cleaning them out every week.  Or whatever. 

 

Not unless you are posting from India.  :)

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It's the THIRD most populous on the world, fourth if we're counting the EU as one nation instead of many separate ones. (Though I'm not sure if Brexit will change that.)  We also have the highest GDP in the world, though we're neck and neck with the EU for that one.

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I love the "plant an extra row" idea. I do not need to plant anything extra though. I've been blessed with Grapefruit, Avocados, Almonds and Oranges, especially oranges.

Maybe I need to call several places, like the women's shelter etc., and see if I either misunderstood or someone else misunderstood the regs when communicating them to me.

 

OH!  I wish you were closer!  Our folks would love to get avocados!  OMGosh!  Actually all of it, but avos are both hard to come by and very popular here.

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You know I have always wondered about that. I'm not into trash at the thrift store, where people drop off old mismatched socks or stained/ripped clothes; but used clothes in good condition are fine for plenty of families including my own - why would they not be acceptable for the food bank?

 

I figure maybe it's a cleanliness thing, but you'd expect that to be a problem with Salvation Army or Value Village too, but they somehow manage just fine.

 

 

 

It costs money and time to sort through used clothes, clean them for distribution, and pay to dispose of those that are trash. Bigger charities can wrap those into their overhead; small charities just don't have the resources, in either volunteer hours or cash.

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You know I have always wondered about that. I'm not into trash at the thrift store, where people drop off old mismatched socks or stained/ripped clothes; but used clothes in good condition are fine for plenty of families including my own - why would they not be acceptable for the food bank?

 

I figure maybe it's a cleanliness thing, but you'd expect that to be a problem with Salvation Army or Value Village too, but they somehow manage just fine.

Value Village is a for profit enterprise who donates a few dollars to charity. All of their staff are paid. They bale up unsuable items and sell it by the pound. Even with that, they absorb dumping fees that are substantial. Goodwill and Salvation Army are not for profit but they are very large and their stores are essentially all staffed by paid employees. They also are set up to sell bales of clothing by the pound to recycling and for profit resallers who ship it overseas. This is what happens to clothes they can't put out to sell and clothing they pull from the racks that hasn't sold in a set amount of time.

 

Now imagine charities like one that I ran for about 3 years. 1 full time paid employee who did everything from fundraising, grantwriting, coordinating social services delivery, marketing, event planning, IT and all of the accounting, taxes and business management etc to occasionally fixing a toilet. Plus one part time assistant to help with a few task and a body of volunteers who were mostly quite elderly. We had a three car garage, a fairly small store room, a meeting room, a small copy room and two offices- one for me and one for the board president.

 

 

We continued to take new and used children's clothing without tears, new or like new household linens. We asked for new school supplies and new Christmas presents (but I would selectively take used presents in like new condition from the people I knew weren't trying to unload their garbage on me.) We had to say no to most furniture (unless it was clean and in good condition and I had a family who was getting housing and so it would not sit around) computers and electronics, used adult clothing and micellaneous items.

 

The entire building, garage to my office, would easily fill up with MOSTLY stuff that was dump bound if it we didn't say no. I didn't have the staff hours or enough able bodied volunteers to sort and distribute all of that stuff. And the cost of getting rid of it wasn't free...the county dump charges everyone, non profit or not.

 

It is ridiculous to assume that these rules are snotty or that because large outfits like Salvation Army can handle almost any and everything, any charity you might like to give to can handle anything and everything.

 

There's a question of opportunity cost:

 

Was my time better used spending all day sorting and discarding crap or securing $100,000 in funding for scholarships for parents in poverty?

 

Were my volunteer hours better used sorting and discarding crap or filling 1000 backpacks with school supplies and mailing shoe vouchers to kids who needed school shoes?

 

At least once every two months I was taking time to load a truck and drive to the dump. And that was with the restrictions. Without the restrictions, it was a 2-3x a month task if we also wanted to have room for the supplies and items we could distribute.

 

In precluding many donations we lost some decent ones but we were not the appropriate place to handle any and every surplus household or clothing item. Especially when people had no compunction donating stinky and broken couches that they didn't want to pay for disposal and that value village wouldn't take for them.

 

Try to see it from the perspective of the small non-profit rather than judging people for setting common sense guidelines geared to their space, time and financial resources. There are no shortage of places to take used clothing to...you simply can not know better than the organization what they can actually and EFFICENTLY use.

Edited by LucyStoner
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The only one I know of is not a no questions asked. The food they have is absolute crap and they basically hand you a bag of very random crap with no consideration for your health. But I guess if you have nothing else it is better than nothing.

 

But I have no ill feelings towards the concept. I wish somehow they could offer better quality food.

The one time I had to resort to a food bank, we received one pre-filled bag of groceries. This would have been more helpful if a large percentage of the bag was not taken up by a large bag of potato chips. Edited by Ravin

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Before you donate check To see what actually happens to the clothes. We found out that its not what it used to be, people handing down clothes that would go thru another child or three. The donation is being taken by a reseller, who will market the new clothes and sell the old by the pound. The clothes you donate won't appear on a table for a thrifty person to rummage through and take. If you want to hand down here, its better to make a swap table at a group event, or ask the church secretary if anyone has a need for the sizes you have and go.thru that person.

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Try to see it from the perspective of the small non-profit rather than judging people for setting common sense guidelines geared to their space, time and financial resources. There are no shortage of places to take used clothing to...you simply can not know better than the organization what they can actually and EFFICENTLY use.

Largely all of this.

 

I don't get the sense of entitlement - these people (organizations) should take what I want to give (regardless of what they might want or need). I wish I could say I was surprised, but tbh after having bought many a used book and cloth diaper/supplies over the years, I can't say I'm surprised. Even with Amazon's condition guidelines, I have still ended up with books whose condition was questionable. On Paperback Swap, even with their condition guidelines, I still ended up the recipient of water damaged books. Even when homeschoolers say their stuff is "like new" or "gently used," I have still ended up with stuff that was neither.

 

Which means that some genuinely gently used and/or like new stuff won't be accepted, but the alternative is wading through all the rest of it to get to the useable stuff.

 

Back when dh was a pastor, we were given a "pantry shower" by the church when we first moved there. It was a kind and thoughtful idea, but we received expired stuff, open packages, and partially used stuff. I ended up throwing a number of things away. That was people donating to their pastor...in an affluent church...to someone they obstensibly like. I have never looked at food drives and donation drives quite the same way since.

Edited by mamaraby
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Oh and also of note - if someone is a SNAP client, they are EXPECTED to be using food pantries. SNAP isn't designed to cover a families full grocery needs, even with the full allotment - you are still expected to need to get about 30% of grocery needs through either a food pantry or paying out of pocket. Our local food bank processes SNAP Applications, and I was shocked when the caseworker told me this when I said how SNAP was't covering our needs no matter how carefully I stretched it.

This varies depending on where you live.

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One great way to collect good used clothes is done by a church near me.

 

Twice a year they have a rummage sale type event, but don't charge for anything.  They lay out the clothes, knickknacks, books, linens, and small appliances on big tables, filling about 3/4 of a gym-sized room.  These are all donated by members of the church and others 'in the know', and everyone knows not to inflict junky stuff on them.  

 

Anyone can take whatever they want for free.

 

Then after three days whatever remains, which is always the vast majority of what was donated, is bagged up and distributed to various charities, all sorted and nice.  This blesses so many people in so many ways.  It's really nice!

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We regularly support our local food bank. When I was a child, my family relied on food banks and church food donations for many years. My father worked FT but we couldn't make ends meet. I try to repay that kindness by giving back. We always support the food drives of scout troops and elementary schools, also; although most of that food goes to the same food pantry we support. We try to buy and donate items to fill in the gaps of what the food bank usually offers. We do not buy cereal, pasta, mac-n-cheese, ramen, etc. There is an abundance of those items. We try to do the shelf stable tuna, chicken, etc along with beans. I also make sure I fill up on gluten free items. I spoke with the director and she said that GF items are requested and, other than cereals, there are few GF items donated. I make sure to include GF flours, baking mix, etc. in our donations.

 

Like a pp wrote, there are abuses in our area. There are people who work FT but go to the food bank as a cost saving measure. These are also people who steal toilet paper and condiments from restaurants and light bulbs from hotel rooms. (shakes head) All in the name of being frugal.  Lest you think I am exaggerating, i know this because one of the men who works with my DH is one who brags about it and there's a local FB page sharing tips on creative frugality.

 

One of the things that struck me about our community when we first moved were the bumper stickers. There is a common one that states "[Town name] a great place to starve." We are a farming community. Unfortunately, almost everything farmed is corn and soy bean. Nothing that will benefit the majority of the residents. The farmer's market is tiny and consists mostly of artisans selling craft wares. There are some individuals who began a co-op but I haven't heard about it for the past few years. A local family began a CSA but it's expensive. The idea is that you pay up front and decide how much produce you want during harvest season. The smallest share is $160 (11 weeks, 2 people) and the largest is $550 (24 weeks, 3-4 people). It's affordable for some but not for most,

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FaithManor, youngest dd's college meal plan was the same way- hundreds of dollars more expensive than buying each meal  individually. It was crazy.   What your ds's school offers is awesome. I'm sure it really helps struggling students! Kudos to them!!

When ds was at college but moved into an apartment, I asked about getting him some Dining Dollars attached to his student ID so he could easily grab a bite on campus. Turned out that for $300 he'd get $250 in dining dollars - the rest went to "overhead" etc. So it was cheaper to just give him extra money. He got more food from the dining hall just buying it that if we had officially bought into the food plan.

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When ds was at college but moved into an apartment, I asked about getting him some Dining Dollars attached to his student ID so he could easily grab a bite on campus. Turned out that for $300 he'd get $250 in dining dollars - the rest went to "overhead" etc. So it was cheaper to just give him extra money. He got more food from the dining hall just buying it that if we had officially bought into the food plan.

 

You probably don't remember this but our kids were at the same college at the same time.  I felt like we were the only people struggling to pay for that school- otherwise why didn't anyone else complain about their crazy food plan prices??

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You know I have always wondered about that. I'm not into trash at the thrift store, where people drop off old mismatched socks or stained/ripped clothes; but used clothes in good condition are fine for plenty of families including my own - why would they not be acceptable for the food bank?

 

I figure maybe it's a cleanliness thing, but you'd expect that to be a problem with Salvation Army or Value Village too, but they somehow manage just fine.

 

It's a minor thing but that sort of attitude always bothered me a bit when my own kids are dressed in hand me downs but good quality ones aren't suitable for someone in greater need than us? That's just one of those things we couldn't do, but I suppose other families could manage it. Just donating money or food to the food pantry is still something very important even if some things other types of donations might be out of reach.

 

They do have that problem at Value village - the one here sprays for bedbugs every three weeks.

 

A smaller place might jusy not have the resources to keep on top of that.

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Another thing that is helpful in my area is Hunters for the Hungry-there is a need to cull the deer population, and a good number of people (often retired or semi-retired) who enjoy hunting, but don't need the meat. So, hunters can sign up as hunters for the hungry, and get a set number of special tags from the state wildlife resources agency. Deer with these tags can be dropped off at processors who have agreed to donate their services for X number of deer in the season, and the meat is then sent to agencies for distribution.

 

Many of these groups also will train people who want to learn to hunt (and how to dress/process their kill) as well, including those for whom being able to take a deer makes a major difference as to whether their family needs food bank services or to what degree, but who either lack the experience or the equipment to do so safely.

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I actually can understand this. So many folks will donate items that are in poor condition and call it like new or gently used. Not saying yours weren't actually like new - just some folks are blind to the condition of items. Then it costs the pantry to sort out & dispose of items that aren't in good enough condition to give out. Or they give out an item and it gives out sooner than expected, leaving the person receiving it in a lurch perhaps.

 

Bed bugs is also a concern with used clothing {or so I'm told by one place I used to help out at - they had a policy that all used clothing items had to stay OUTSIDE the building to avoid bringing bedbugs in by accident.}

This is what I have heard. People donate gross stuff, and food banks often don't have the time or manpower to devote to used clothing. Specific new with tags items don't usually have the same problems.

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We have the hunter donations here too. I used to be involved in the food bank at our church, but became disgusted with the folks who were scamming. It's not the place to do your grocery "shopping" for years! It's long since closed. We have a private one in town, but again, too many folks scamming. When our Scouts do "Scouting for Feed" it goes to the church we meet at. That way it goes to actual families in need, not able-bodied adults. When we have outgrown clothing to give away, I put in a free shed in front of a friend's house. If I donate to our local shelter, 90% of it is dumped. I watched the shelter thrift store smash an 8 piece set of dishes because a few saucers were broken. No thanks. 

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I donate a flat $20 a month from a credit card to each of the food pantries local to us (IL and AZ). That way they can use it to help purchase whatever they are in most need of each month. Both do an incredible job of feeding hungry people in the communities where we live.

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When our Scouts do "Scouting for Feed" it goes to the church we meet at. That way it goes to actual families in need, not able-bodied adults.

 

You can be able-bodied and still be unemployable, especially when there is high unemployment.

 

You can be employed and still be underemployed, requiring you to use assistance to feed yourselves. Some big corporations, such as McDonald's and Walmart, assume their employees will be using SNAP.

 

You can appear to be temporarily able-bodied and still have an invisible disability that keeps you from working, or keeps you from earning enough to feed yourself. That's my situation - well-educated, people who don't know me well and don't know much about autism often assume I am "normal", but I have never had any sort of paid work. (And I'm lucky in that I have a diagnosis. Many people in similar situations have no idea what the issue is, just that things which are easy for other people are hard for them, and everybody around them thinks it is their fault.)

Edited by Tanaqui
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Food banks should be available to everyone or as fits the food bank's mission but with obvious limits on amounts taken because they can't have one person come in and deplete their entire stores.  Maybe that is self-explanatory but I didn't think that was covered in my options.

 

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  It's SO HARD to ask for food.  And it shouldn't be something that people need like this. 

 

 

 

 

 I know I'm coming into this late, but I wanted to agree with this statement.

 

It is HARD to ask for food, but it's one of those "help" buttons that you will ask for.

 

Kris

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I don't know how I feel. I guess there could be a way to make it "no questions asked" as in, no one asks you personal questions, but maybe with some type of limit if you seem to be "hogging" it/overusing it?? I don't know how you would do this. I guess I'd just be leery that people would take advantage.

 

I'm in favor of food banks, though.

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I guess there could be a way to make it "no questions asked" as in, no one asks you personal questions, but maybe with some type of limit if you seem to be "hogging" it/overusing it?? I don't know how you would do this. I guess I'd just be leery that people would take advantage.

 

If it is necessary to ration food (either because resources are limited or because some people really are taking what they genuinely do not need), then I'd rather have everybody fill out a simple, not terribly intrusive form rather than singling people out.

 

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If it is necessary to ration food (either because resources are limited or because some people really are taking what they genuinely do not need), then I'd rather have everybody fill out a simple, not terribly intrusive form rather than singling people out.

 

I wasn't suggesting singling people out if everyone has to sign in somehow to state that they received that week/month/whatever. Maybe they get assigned a number or something to show each time they visit. That way it's clear that number 454 has met the allowed quota for that period.

 

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The one we volunteered for did ask questions. However, the questions were meant to find out what additional needs the family had. Things like Do you have heat in your home this winter? Do you need kitchen utensils or appliances? Do you have child care needs? Do you need back to school supplies? Did you know about this or that service? Can we help you sign up for those? Every year, a different church hosts a weekend of free medical/self care for those who need it. Doctors and dentists, hair dressers, chiropractors, massage therapists all donate their time to serve the needy. It had nothing to do with this organization, but they wanted to be sure everyone knew about it and if needed, they would try to provide transportation. Are there clothing or shoe needs, blankets, bedding, towels? They also asked about food allergies, preferences, and family size, to ensure bigger families got enough food. They asked for birth dates so that a cake and cards could be sent in their weekly bin. There was also a transportation crew, so if you had no way to get to the food bank, a bin with a weeks worth of supplemental food could be brought to the family. We volunteers would gather in a church that had an industrial kitchen and not only put together bins of pantry goods, but cook hot meals and package them in foil containers, cut up fresh fruit, and make laundry detergent. Some families had babies, so we would put diapers or wipes in their bins when we got them. Every month we'd send home toiletries. We had a blanket drive in the winter. We delivered beds and other furniture to families who had expressed a need for them.

We were able to deliver to the same family for six months, and it was wonderful getting to know them more personally. It allowed us to connect them with a friend getting rid of their (perfectly good, they were just upgrading) dryer when the family was line drying six people's clothing indoors. We were able to get to know their children and do Christmas for them. We brought them books to read, games and puzzles to play with. We also supplemented the pantry food with fresh fruits and vegetables mid week. I was the moms on call person to drive her to the hospital when she gave birth.

The organization offered a lot of classes, like nutrition, and job training/search opportunities. They would trade volunteer and class hours at the pantry for coupons for extra things, (not necessities), like new gifts for birthdays or Christmas, toys and games, tickets for the movies or admission to the pool or zoo.

I've never needed a food bank, but unfortunately they are a necessity. And the clients at a food bank deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and not be made to feel uncomfortable about questions asked. I felt that the organization did a fantastic job of that. The further questions were completely optional-you could just walk in and get food if that was what you preferred.

 

As for what to donate, yes, they prefer cash. The food pantry shops at a bigger food pantry warehouse and gets food by the pound. I want to say it was something like $.16 per pound. It could be anything-cans, boxes, meats, cheeses, produce-that the warehouse has in stock. So it was more than six times less expensive for them to shop than for me to purchase things at my grocery store. Other things they appreciated were toiletries and baby items like diapers and wipes.

Edited by Gentlemommy
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My bad, I misread your comment and thought you said something completely different.

 

To be fair I was foggy on how to implement it (how would they casually tell someone, "we've seen you here too much" lol). Your post made me think more about how it could potentially work, though. :)

 

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