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Ideas for items to donate to senior center food pantry.....


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I thought you all might help me come up with a list. The senior center my son volunteers to teach at has a little pantry for food items and personal care items that they open after the free lunch they serve. I noticed it last time we were there. I think they limit seniors to 1 bag, but to be honest, shelves were kind of bare. I will ask the lady we work with if she has a list of most requested items, but I thought you all might help me get one started. 

I was thinking things like individual oatmeal packets, tuna packets, small things of cookies, crackers, small jars PB, jelly, lotions, bar soap maybe ???? I seem to have brain freeze...........help! LOL


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While not the healthiest, my mother enjoys those heat and eat shelf stable meals....chicken and dumplings, beef stew, etc.  Small cans of fruits and veggies, individual service fruit cups, pudding cups, etc.  Tuna packets that don't need to be drained (harder for arthritic hands to do), individual bags of chips, cookies, snacks, etc......my MIL loved these as than stuff didn't get stale.

Depending on the group.....personal cleaning cloths (like giant baby wipes), incontinence products, Kleenex, TP, paper towels, napkins, small bottle of dish soap, shampoo, etc.

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My guess is that many of the people might have food stamps, so I'd give things that food stamps don't cover, like toothpaste, toilet paper, and dish detergent.  

Usually, I'd say tampons and pads, but probably not at the senior center.

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Canned chili with meat.

Canned cheese.  

Cream of chicken soup--full fat.

Fig newtons

Those little canned cocktail sausages

Canned devilled meats.

That German black bread in the plastic package.  It keeps forever until you open it so it's pretty shelf stable.

Laundry detergent


Jars of mixed nuts 

Canned clam chowder

HERBS AND SPICES!  These tend to be pretty expensive, and the food banks don't often get them.  Plus they are easy to carry in meaningful quantities.  I think Trader Joes has the best prices.



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Incontinence products.  You can buy store brand at warehouse clubs pretty easily.

Boost/Ensure type products for those who have no interest in eating.

Pet food.

Warehouse clubs will often have a big box of hot chocolate packets.  May seem like a strange thing, but when we used to visit my Grandma--she'd only use half a packet of hot chocolate mix for herself or for us grandkids to make it last longer.

Pudding mix--either the cook and serve kind or instant.

Tuna, canned shrimp, deviled ham, Spam (if you're OK with buying pork)

Brownie mix, cake mix, flour, sugar, spices

Rice-A-Roni type mixes


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1 hour ago, Um_2_4 said:

Ok so question: Would you put basic 1st aid items, like bandaids, antibiotic creams, anti-itch creams, antacids??? Or not??? I assume most are on medicare, but I know in CA on private insurance OTC items are not covered.


Check with the food pantry. Those items aren’t covered by Medicare, but some places won’t put medicine in their stock due to liability reasons. If they do, I recommend Biofreeze - it helped my parents’ arthritis pain the most out of the pain creams. 

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I think most seniors I know appreciate easy to make lunch and dinners.

Canned Soups

Canned Tuna or chicken salad packs

Shelf - stable ready made dinners that you just pop in the microwave

peanut butter


Canned veggies and beans

Salad packs - Although probably not feasible (my MIL favorite thing to eat is already prepared salads that she buys in the deli section....but these usually require refrigeration)


Oatmeal (even though they are exactly the same thing as buying the big jar of oats, my MIL loves the regular oatmeal packets because she doesn't like to measure)



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