Some of the staples that are always needed include:
- Canned meats (tuna, chicken etc.)
- Canned Fruits and Vegetables (regular size)
- Canned Beans (kidney, garbanzo, pork & beans etc./regular sized)
- Canned pasta (regular sized)
- Meals in a can (beef stew, chili, soup with meat etc./regular sized)
- Boxed macaroni and cheese dinners
- Box potatoes (mashed, scalloped etc.)
- Rice (regular and instant)
- Dried pasta
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
- Breakfast cereal
- Breakfast bars
- Pasta and rice sides
- Hamburger Helper
Protein in particular is a crucial staple in most banks and the non-perishable types ensure that when there's an overstock, the extras won't go bad. Cans of tuna, chicken and beans are consistently needed, as are jarred peanut and almond butter, all of which are great sources of protein.
Some pantries accept perishable holiday foods like turkeys or hams during the winter season, but not all of them do. Still, boxes and cans of traditional holiday side dishes like stuffing, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes are products that are often very much in demand but also in short supply.
Baby Foods, Formula and Diapers
Food insecurity may arguably be the most frightening for the parents of infants. Banks almost always benefit from more jarred baby food, packages of baby cereal and cookies, and canisters of formula. And donating boxes of diapers means that the food banks' littlest clients can stay dry and healthy.
Snacks for Kids
Snacks for kids are always in high demand. Boxes of granola bars, packs of yogurt, milk boxes, juice boxes and the like remain popular. Anything that a child would be thrilled to find in his or her lunchbox (that's not straight junk food) will generally be received enthusiastically wherever you donate.
Condiments and Spices
So you've donated all this canned tuna and chicken, but what are people supposed to mix it with? Items like mayonnaise are often forgotten when people are donating food, and the same can be said for other condiments like mustard and ketchup. Salt and pepper are also always appreciated.
Personal Hygiene Products
Even when people qualify for food stamps, they don't normally cover necessities like toilet paper, toothpaste and soap. For that reason, personal hygiene products are especially hard to come by and very much appreciated by food bank clients.
What Not to Donate
Plenty of well-intentioned people make the mistake of trying to donate alcohol to food banks, especially during the holiday season. Liquor of any kind is never accepted and is best left at the store or enjoyed in your own home.
Finally, leave out of your donation bag any packages that have been opened by you (even if it was just that one time!), any with passed expiration dates, or those with expiration dates that aren't easily readable.
Cash is Good, Too!
Monetary donations are used by the bank to purchase food at a discount from the Pennsylvania Food Bank. To contribute, make your donation payable to Zion Lutheran Church and mail it to: Hummelstown Food Pantry, c/o Zion Lutheran Church, 100 West Main Street, Hummelstown, PA 17036.