How To Really Help Our Local Food Banks

October 24, 2016

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With Halloween a week from today and 30 days away from Thanksgiving, many of us turn to donating a gift of non-perishable food to local food banks.  But what we think may be a good donation could be a headache for food distributors.  Not that they are ungrateful for your generosity there's more than donating two dozen cans of corn that you can do to really make a difference.  According to most food shelters, cash is king when it comes to donations. Food banks buy food at wholesale, bulk, or other discounted rates, meaning that they can get a large amount of food for a small amount of money. Some food banks also have matching deals with food manufacturers, so the manufacturer donates money or food for certain purchases that the food bank makes. Plus cash fills holes in items that were not donated. Speaking of companies, does your employer offer matching cash gifts? Many companies will match dollar-for-dollar your cash donation to food banks and others pay you for volunteering.  Check with your HR department for special programs that help you give back. If you still prefer to donate food or non-perishable items, check with you food bank to see what they currently need. For instance, Interfaith Emergency Services in Ocala is in need of Hygiene products while Catholic Charities in Gainesville has a list of items needed for their “Feed A Family” program. While many food banks do not accept perishable foods, there are a few that will.  So if you are a gardener with extra food, consider visiting ample harvest dot org, a nationwide web site that matches gardeners with food banks that accept fresh fruits and vegetables. Finally, the donation of your time is also appreciated but remember to do it outside the holidays too.

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