No. 1: Cash, plain and simple
Consider this: If you buy a can of tuna fish and donate it to a food pantry, it will cost you a dollar and some change. However, a $1 donation to The Weymouth Food Pantry provides about Seven Dollars worth of food and grocery products to someone at risk of hunger.
Another way of looking at the return on your dollar is that it provides anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds of food. We do it by accessing low-cost or free food from the Greater Boston Food Bank, buying in bulk, using volunteer labor and working with food brokers and retailers who notify us of deep discounts.
If not cash, what?
We do recognize that the donation of actual food items provides a direct connection between donors and people who are hungry. Here are the top foods needed by the food pantry:
- Proteins. Canned meats such as tuna, chicken or fish are high in protein and low in saturated fat. Peanut butter is rich in protein and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, the "good fats." These are among the most expensive foods – generally too expensive for the food pantry to buy large quantities.
- Soups and stews. They are filling, particularly the "chunky" soups, and contain liquid for hydration. In addition, soups can be filled with protein and vegetables.
- Rice and pasta. “They're really staples.” In addition, grain-based foods, such as pasta, are a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates.
- Cereal, including oatmeal. Breakfast cereals can be an additional source of protein, and most cereals today include a variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Canned vegetables, including tomatoes and tomato sauce. Studies indicate that canned vegetables have about the same nutritional value as fresh vegetables.
- Canned or dried beans and peas. A staple of diets as early as 6700 B.C., beans are a low-fat source of protein and fiber.
- Canned fruits. Only a small amount of vitamin C is lost in the canning process, making these a healthy choice.
- Fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed). Make sure it's 100% juice.
- Jelly, Cookies, Crackers and Snacks. We rely heavily on donations for our supplies of these items.
- Prepared box mixes such as macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper.
- Shelf-stable milk. This includes dehydrated milk, canned evaporated milk and instant breakfasts.
While the Weymouth Food Pantry is loath to say no to any donations, please let common sense prevail. As far as least helpful donations, out-of-date and glass items are the least desirable.
Other problematic items:
- Perishables. The items could go bad before they're given to a client.
- Homemade foods. That plate of homemade cookies is a nice thought, but there's no way for the food pantry to know the contents or the date they were made.
- Rusty, Dented or unlabeled cans. Would you feed your family out of rusty or unidentifiable cans?
- Noncommercial canned items. Again, the food pantry has no way of determining quality.
- Baby food. We can accept canned or dry baby food and formula. Small glass containers must have clearly visible expiration dates as well as being current.
- Alcoholic beverages or soda.
- Open packages. Do we need to explain this one?
- We cannot, due to space limitations, accept donations of turkeys.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the Weymouth Food Pantry at (781) 331-7682