9 Things You Never Thought to Donate to a Food Pantry

People need more than just food.

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Most people will gladly donate food to a food bank or food drive. It is an easy way to make to help someone in need. After all, everyone has to eat.

Feeding America can help you find a food pantry in the US near you, and there are similar websites or apps in other countries. You can also find donation boxes in supermarkets or houses of worship too.

About one in eight people in the US are food insecure – that’s equal to the entire population of Canada – and programs like Snap and WIC usually do not provide adequately for people's needs. Food banks have to pick up the slack for many.

But food stamps will not cover toothpaste or baby diapers. These are necessary items that people need but may not have the funds to purchase. These types of supplies are frequently donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters, but people who need help with living expenses because they are unemployed or underemployed need these items too.

You may not have thought of it, but you can donate other essential items to food pantries or food drives too. So, when you are in the supermarket and picking up extra canned goods for a food drive, also consider buying something from these nine non-food categories.

1. Toilet Paper

This is an item that is in constant demand that is rarely donated. Bring a few wrapped rolls to your local food pantry or collection box and it will make a huge difference to a poor family.

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2. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste

To help people keep their teeth and gums healthy, bring toothbrushes and toothpaste to a food pantry. You can even donate the free samples you get at the dentist so ask your dentist for a few extra to give to people in need.

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3. Period Supplies

These necessities get to be an expensive unavoidable monthly cost for many families, making them extremely valued donations. No one, especially school-aged girls should ever have to worry about access to feminine hygiene products.

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4. Baby Diapers and Wipes

Diapers and baby wipes are in constant demand, and food assistance programs do not provide them. Food banks frequently run out of diapers first. You can even donate open packages when your baby has outgrown a size.

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5. Baby Food

Baby food is also a frequently requested item from food banks. Donate baby cereals and baby food that does not come in glass jars. Formula expires quickly, so most food banks buy it from donated funds. But when you give birth, if you are offered free formula samples or coupons, take them even if you are nursing and give them to a food pantry.

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6. Toiletries

Shampoos, conditioners, soaps, deodorants, shaving cream, razors, and other toiletries are also useful items to bring to food pantries or food drives. The small size ones from hotel stays or the free samples of the products you receive with purchases can also be donated.    

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7. Household Cleaners

Cleaning supplies like dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent are also not covered by food assistance programs and are necessary items that people may not be able to purchase themselves. So, stock up on sales or buy-one-get-one sales and bring them to a food pantry near you.

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8. Pet Food and Supplies

Don't forget the furry family members. Unopened bags of pet food, cat litter, treats, leashes, and other pet items are needed too. No family should have to give up their pets due to hard times.

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9. Can Openers

Donate portable, non-electric can openers that can be used to open donated can goods. You can find them at your local dollar store.

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