The Pantry Staples Food Banks Really Want During The Holidays

In 2014, one in seven Americans (46 million) relied on food banks, per the Coalition of Human Needs. Of these, 72% were at or below the poverty line, three million were students, and 66% had to choose between food and medical expenses. In 2021, the number was up to one in six (53 million), with 5.5 billion meals provided by Feeding America alone (via a Feeding America study).

With a worldwide pandemic just barely in the past, this holiday season is proving to be especially difficult for food banks. "With the demand being so great, the supply being so short, and inflation being high, it's just a perfect storm for long lines at the bank," Eric Cooper, president of San Antonio's Feeding America program, said to USA Today. Donations have also decreased since the start of the pandemic, and according to chief operating officer Katie Fitzgerald, more than 40% of the Feeding America locations are operating at a deficit. Thankfully, there's still plenty of time for donations leading up to Christmas.

Canned goods are better than meats

Food banks worried about their Christmas supply may not need to stress just yet. According to World Vision, 63% of Americans donate to a charitable cause in the last two weeks of the year. And while every gift is appreciated, some food donations are more sustainable than others. Per an interview by The Kitchn with Second Harvest Food Bank's Terri Kaupp, side items make better donations than expensive proteins. These products include boxed stuffing, canned pumpkin and yams, cranberry sauce, and dried macaroni. And if you do wish to donate meats, canned varieties are the way to go.

If you live in America, you shouldn't have a hard time finding an organization to help. Per Honor Society, some options are Meals on Wheels America, Feeding America, Feed the Children, and Action Against Hunger USA. Some of the initiatives differ from others, so it's key to find a cause that matters to you. For example, Meals on Wheels is designed to serve homebound seniors, while Feed the Children is, of course, catered toward kids. No matter which food bank you choose, it's clear that every program, and the people they benefit, will be appreciative.