Donate food. Food from your pantry can be a blessing to those in need. Many people go hungry because they can’t afford staples at home. Check your pantry to see what you have. Specialty foods are also welcome, especially those that don’t have to be refrigerated.
Don’t donate leftovers from the holidays to a food bank.
After the holidays, food donations to food banks tend to drop off. You can still donate food to a food bank, but you should be aware of the guidelines for food donations. Make sure you donate unopened canned or shelf-stable items only. Before donating your leftovers, check with your local food bank to see if they accept food donations, and follow the guidelines carefully. Only donate pieces from the holidays to a food bank if you’re sure it’s a good fit.
Only donate leftovers from the holidays if they’re individually sealed. Food banks can’t inspect your pieces and cannot guarantee the quality of the food. They also can’t accept food that has expired or has had any packaging problems. Instead, donate unused items in reusable, sturdy shopping bags. You’ll likely be walking or taking public transportation home after visiting a food bank, so reusable bags are a great way to accept your donations.
Only donate leftovers from the holidays if they have expired. This is especially true for perishable items. These include canned goods from the holidays and milk, vegetable stock, and pasta sauce. Some food banks even have freezer space for frozen goods. Ensure you avoid unhealthy choices such as soda and coffee when donating food to a food bank. As a reminder, food bank volunteers are required to adhere to strict food safety standards.
Inflation and global supply chain issues often hamper the food bank’s holiday preparations. Due to these factors, local food banks report delayed food supply and shortages due to high prices. Thankfully, the community can help fill in the gaps.
The holiday season brings about a large amount of food waste. Many of us over-prepare food for our families. Unfortunately, this excess food ends up in landfills. According to the San Diego nonprofit I Love a Clean San Diego, 25% more food is wasted during the holiday than during the rest of the year. This negatively affects food security, the environment, and climate change.
Avoid donating baby formula.
To donate homemade food to a local food bank, you should avoid contributing baby formula. This is because baby formula can be harmful and can lead to infant death. It is essential to read labels and follow the instructions on the bottle to avoid mixing the wrong kinds of formula. You can also contact third-party certification groups to help choose an alternative brand. The Clean Label Project is one group that can help you choose a brand you can trust.
Before donating your homemade food or homemade baby formula, check the ingredients. You should ensure that the elements do not contain harmful additives that could harm the child. Many online formula mixtures contain too much salt and other nutrients that are not good for babies. These nutrients can cause problems with a baby’s kidneys and liver.
If you must donate baby formula, give it to an organization that appropriately manages the process. Donating baby formula to a food bank or WIC clinic may be tempting, but it could send the wrong message. First, the procedure could deplete a mother’s milk supply if she is breastfeeding. Second, a family suffering from a crisis may need more resources to buy and use formula. In addition, diluting baby formula will lower the number of nutrients a baby receives at each feeding. As a result, a child may become malnourished.
If you want to donate baby formula, try contacting your local community organization for a donation drive. A community action agency or United Way can help connect you with families that need it. Another option is contacting a family through your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can recommend organizations that accept donations and refer you to local families needing formula.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against diluting or watering down infant formula. Cutting it too much can lead to nutritional deficiency or health problems. Another risk is that homemade recipes may contain only some essential nutrients like calcium. Sometimes, homemade formulas have led to hospitalizations due to low calcium levels. In such cases, substitute formulas should be used.
Avoid donating food past its “use-by” or “sell-by” date.
Don’t donate homemade food that has gone past its “use-by” or “sell-by” date. Foods past their “use-by” or “sell-by” dates may be spoiled or unsafe to donate. Don’t donate perishable canned goods, even if they are still edible. They may have been abused by being stored or served at a customer’s table.
If you’re unsure of whether homemade food has passed its “use-by” or “sell-by” date, call your local food safety office. They can provide advice on food safety and how to donate food safely. You can also contact the WSU Cooperative Extension office for information on food safety guidelines.
A good rule of thumb is to read the food labels. Many manufacturers put dates on their products to indicate the best quality. Nevertheless, consumers often need to understand these dates, leading them to discard wholesome food. This practice can result in unnecessary food waste, leading to food contamination.
The “use-by” date is the last date recommended by the manufacturer for the product to be at its peak quality. It’s also known as the “best before” date. In most cases, “best before” means a product is still edible. If it has passed its “sell-by” date, you will likely find mold or other bacteria.
While donating homemade food past its “use-by” or “sell-by” date is tempting, remember that you’re not presenting it. The food will be less tasty and safe. However, selling it or donating it to a charity might be OK if you’ve kept it at the right temperature.
Avoid donating glass jars.
While donating homemade food in glass jars may be tempting, this is not a good idea. These containers can easily break, and the recipient’s pantry may need to be more significant to handle them. Furthermore, many food banks only accept homemade food if packaged and labeled correctly. Instead, you should donate canned goods and other food items in bulk containers.
Alternatively, you can donate used glass jars to charities. A quick search on Facebook can reveal a variety of possibilities. You can search for free pots in Buy Nothing groups, zero-waste Facebook groups, and online classifieds. Some bulk stores also accept and recycle glass jars or pass them on to customers. Charity shops will often take donated glass jars, but only if they are in good condition and brand.