Rising Need, Rising Costs, and Food Shortages.
Food pantries are in need of food donations more than ever this holiday, across the country, from the East, through the Midwest, to the West. It is a matter of supply (shortages) and (increased) demand.
In 2020, rough estimates indicate 45 million people, or 1 in 7, experienced food insecurity as the pandemic forced tens of millions to suffer from unemployment or saw their work hours decline, according to an analysis by Feeding America. Increases in food prices are creating more food insecurity. Over the past year, food prices have risen 5.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is driving more people to seek out help.
Rising food costs are also impacting food shelves. Because of these increases, the food banks are having to spend thousands of additional dollars on food per month for the same items. Additionally, the supply chain shortages that slow the supply of key items, like fresh vegetables and fruit that come from outside the US, have resulted in less inventory and increased transportation costs, further limiting what food shelves can do with their dollars.
What Food Donations are Most Needed?
Each food pantry or nonprofit is different. Keep in mind they may serve diverse groups of people, from children to seniors, rural to urban, and people with every kind of cultural background and dietary need. It is important to find out what is needed where you are donating.
Food that is shelf-stable is very flexible and allows for storing and easy packing. Nutritious food is also especially important for people who are experiencing food insecurity. This is especially true in food deserts in cities as well as rural areas where healthy choices aren't accessible. Food in different sizes is a consideration, as well. For example, meal packs or staples like flour and milk may be great for families making food for the entire family. For organizations like Hope4Youth, who serve young people on the move, donations of travel-size and single-serving foods are most helpful, including no-cook items for those who may not be able to easily heat food. Consider ease of opening and preparation such as pop-top cans and items that don't require other ingredients that someone might not have.
In short, it is important to know who the food is going to and what they most need, but there are a few fairly universal items that are almost always appreciated.
Here are the top 6 most requested food donations:
Two donations to avoid:
How To Help
Food shelves run on two things, financial and food donations. An easy answer to how you can help might be right inside your cupboard. Are there cans, boxes, or bags of shelf-stable food items that you know you aren't going to use? Pack them up and donate them near you. Check DonateGoodStuff.org to find what is closest. You will find not only traditional food pantries, but all kinds of organizations offering food support. Other resources for locating food pantries across the US are FoodPantries.org and Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit food-provider network aiming to ensure equitable access in the United States.
And if you can spare it, financial donations are always greatly appreciated.
Donate (only) Good Stuff
Make sure you donate what is needed so you can have the most positive impact possible.
Make it a Group Effort
What if you only have a few items to donate? Collect from neighbors, friends, and family. Ask people to go through their cupboards and add to the collection. It takes just a little effort to post on social media, or to send an email or message to a few people around you. Making just one trip instead of many people making trips not only saves everyone time but leaves a smaller carbon footprint.
With a little bit of extra help from the community, everyone will have the food they need through the holidays.
Breaking Free helps women escape systems of sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking and prostitution. They have served more than 6,000 clients and reached over 22,000 individuals with advocacy, street outreach, housing, women's program and supportive services, and ending the demand through Men Breaking Free.
Staff diversity at Breaking Free provides additional support to serve women of color who are disproportionately represented in the demographics of sex trafficking, prostitution, and sexual exploitation.
How it Started
Breaking Free was founded in 1996 by Vednita Carter. A survivor herself, her mission was to help women and girls whose lives had been devastated by prostitution and sex trafficking.
"The single greatest barrier to escaping sex trafficking and prostitution is a lack of safe housing." Terry Forliti, Executive Director of Breaking Free
Breaking Free is a survivor-led provider of housing services to victims of sex trafficking and their children in Minnesota, including week-day Drop-In Center, permanent supportive housing, and an emergency shelter.
Want to support the work of Breaking Free with 'good stuff'? Here are some of the things that are needed right now and the real impact these donations can have:
How it Started
Jeremiah Program was founded in 1993 to engage the community in breaking the cycle of poverty for the growing number of children being born to single mothers living in poverty.
They have expanded to serve families in cities outside of Minnesota including Austin, Fargo, Boston and Brooklyn, and continue to grow.
What they Do
Jeremiah Program helps disrupt the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children, two generations at a time so no mother has to make the untenable choice between investing in herself and her children.
They take a wholistic approach built upon 5 pillars:
This holistic approach of the program allows families to dream what is possible when they are able to bring all of their identities to bear in pursuit of their goals.
Be A Part of It
When you support Jeremiah Program, you become part of the community. Here is a glance at their ongoing needs on Donate Good Stuff:
How It Started
The Link was founded in 1991 by two local Black leaders and former Minnesota Vikings Players, Jim Marshall and Oscar Reed to help youth on the Northside of Minneapolis who were struggling with poverty, homelessness, getting victimized by crime or recruited into criminal activity. The two leaders started the organization in a very community grounded way with a philosophy of doing “whatever it took” to help young people on the Northside.
What They Do
The Link has 22 programs across the Twin Cities area, employs over 150 adult and youth staff members, and supports over 2,000 youth and young families each year. The Link offers programming in three areas:
Top Needs Right Now
The Link website lists top needs right now as: hygiene, food, new clothing, and gift cards. And here is a glance at their ongoing needs on Donate Good Stuff:
They are on the front lines, often transporting people with COVID-19.
Saint Paul firefighters and EMT’s may have sufficient PPE to do their job, but need hand made or non-medical grade masks to wear around the station or at home. Every day they are transferring COVID-19 patients to Saint Paul hospitals and worry that they could be bringing it home and infecting their families and loved ones.
Emergency medical services (EMS) play a vital role in responding to requests to assistance, triaging patients, and providing emergency medical treatment and transport to people who are ill. However, unlike patient care in the controlled environment of a healthcare facility, care and transportation by EMS present unique challenges because of the nature of the setting - enclosed space during transport, frequent need for rapid medical decision-making and interventions with limited information.
The St. Paul Fire Foundation Executive Director, Cristine Shapira, reached out on their behalf. SPFF is a 501c3 registered non-profit organization that is dedicated to supporting the firefighters on the Saint Paul Fire Department.
She said these masks would protect them from infecting others while at work, and just as importantly, at home. She passed along that they are so grateful for the public wanting to assist us during this unprecedented and critical time.
Donations will be distributed directly to the men and women of the Saint Paul Fire Department.
All of the needed items are listed on DonateGoodStuff.org
· N95 respirator masks
· Disinfectant – cavicide or similar
· Cleaning wipes with bleach (i.e. Clorox)
· Hand sanitizer swabs (Dacron, Rayon, Nylon)
· Safety Glasses\gowns
· Face shields
· Thermometers – Infra red probe covers
If you can help, reach out to the SPFF: firstname.lastname@example.org
A friend recently posted this on Facebook and I was inspired! I've often had just a few things to donate and they tend to sit in a bag by my back door.....waiting.
So I am passing along this beautiful idea. A way to break the monotony of winter, declutter and organize a little (which always feels good) and do make a difference in your community.
Step 1) Pick something you've been meaning to donate and search for an organization that needs it on Donate Good Stuff.
Step 2) Post on social that you are doing a collection for more of that item and what you'll do with them. Make sure to include a deadline.
Step 3) Once collected, deliver to the organization/s and report back to the group.
Maybe you'll find it so rewarding, you'll decide to make it an annual event, or do it several times a year! We'd love to hear from any of you who have done something like this -- Comment below and share your pics!
If you are interested in doing a bra collection specifically, check out these ideas:
Take a Break from Retail Madness to