Food pantries rely on donations from the public to help build their reserves. As of right now, the types of food being donated have decreased in quality exponentially. Many people who donate food focus on quantity instead of quality, thus causing the quality to suffer. When people buy food for donation, the easy-to buy canned goods are the ones they gravitate towards. Fatty meats are also a favorite among donations. These types of processed, sugar and fat rich foods are now dominating food pantries. Because they seem to offer more dietary energy than for less money, they are often seen as the best food to donate. People donating can also buy a lot of these food for less money. This creates a sense of helpfulness by providing people with the opportunity to donate a lot of food at once. To truly help our food pantries we need to focus less on buying processed fatty foods in bulk, and more on buying nutritious foods that will provide proper sustenance.
Donation choices are also affected by personal preferences instead of clientele needs. When looking into donating food, it’s only logical to think about what you would like to receive in that specific situation. Most of these choices are based on ethnicity. The predominant ethnicity donating to local pantries is caucasian (Verpy, H., Smith, C., Reicks, M. (2003). Attitudes and Behaviors of Food Donors and Perceived Needs and Wants of Food Shelf Clients. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 35(1), 6-15). Because of this, ethnic foods are in high demand. People eat differently based on their culture, donors need to be more aware of this when donating to provide a better variety of food.
We Need More
To create a well rounded, and healthier donation population, these are some of the foods that need to be donated in larger volumes:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- ethnically diverse foods
- dairy products
- unrefined staple food
Transportation and storage of the more perishable foods is one of the main challenge facing food pantries. The best way to increase donations is to inform the public. The people donating the food need to be aware of what food is needed and what food is in surplus.