Involve your children, family, and friends in the best gift of all…giving to others who really need it, with the food bank reverse advent calendar. Collect or gather a food or pantry item for the month of December, then donate to a local food bank.
Our family has been volunteering regularly at a local food pantry in the inner city closest to us since the very beginning of Covid. We were looking for a way we could help during the pandemic, and it has continued on since then. It’s been really rewarding for our family, and something we look forward to doing. As we’ve collected food from our church and community to donate to the food pantry, packed food bags, and distributed food to the homeless population, it’s strengthened my resolve to be help as much as possible. I also want to teach my children to look outside themselves, be grateful for what they have, and give what they can to others.
You can help too! I know this has been a tough few years, with the pandemic, and now rising costs and inflation. It’s impacted a lot of people, especially the most vulnerable. If you’re looking for a way for you or your family to give this holiday season, sharing some of the most basic items would be a huge gift for many. If you have some to spare this holiday season (and all throughout the year), consider giving to your local food bank.
Food bank reverse advent calendar
To make it easy, I’ve created a giving countdown…a reverse advent calendar. It’s simple…for every day of December up until Christmas Eve, gather or collect the food item from the list and donate it to a local food pantry or food bank. Another idea is to collect all of it at one time–one grocery trip–and donate it earlier in the month. I do weekly shopping, so I may pick up everything for that week at one time and set it aside.
This doesn’t have to start December 1st! Families need these items on an ongoing basis, so you could start before Thanksgiving and donate earlier in the month of December.
Encourage your family, friends, church, and even your community to get involved this holiday season–imagine how much could be collected, and what a difference it can make.
How to find local food banks & food pantries
If you’re not sure where to donate, check out Justserve.org. You can search for ways to volunteer in your area, including local food banks or food pantries. There are larger food banks that get a lot of donations, but I’d also consider donating to some of the smaller ones that may not have as many resources.
What to donate to food banks
I’m basing this list off of the items that are the most requested at the food pantry we work with–the ones that we run out of the fastest, or typically don’t have enough of in the first place. If you’re wondering in general about what’s best to donate to a food pantry, I’ve compiled some tips that can be helpful.
Please remember that individuals and families will be living on these groceries, so consider giving something that you would serve to your own family. Donating unexpired items is key, and not those that may have been sitting on our own storage room shelves for awhile.
Items that require only water are key, because families may not always have enough milk or eggs. Oatmeal packets, ramen, pancake mixes, pasta, instant potatoes, rice, pasta and noodle meals, are good examples. Other ready-to-eat items such as granola bars and peanut butter crackers are great for school lunches. For the holidays, instant potatoes and Stovetop stuffing are perfect.
Other sources of protein such as tuna and canned chicken are really important. They can be added to rice or pasta to make a complete meal, without needing a lot of extra ingredients.
Canned vegetables and fruits are also a critical element, giving families and individuals much needed variety important nutritional content. Fruit cups, squeezable fruit packets, boxes of raisins and Craisins, are great options too.
Non-food items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and feminine products are always in need.