This time of year, food banks across the country are gearing up to feed thousands upon thousands of hungry Americans on Thanksgiving Day and they desperately need your help. Many people don’t have the time during the busy holiday season to actually volunteer at a food pantry. We may not all be able to cook or serve hot meals at a shelter, and thank you dearly if you are, but we can all help out simply by grocery shopping. Imagine how many families could be blessed with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner if everyone chipped in and bought a few items each time they went food shopping.
Most food banks organize non-perishable food drives during the holidays. They then put together bags or boxes containing all the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings, which are then delivered to or picked up by families in need to take home and prepare.
The next time you go grocery shopping, take along this simple list and pick up as many of the following items as you can. Then, take them to your nearest food bank. Don’t know where to go? Churches and schools almost always have food drives this month. Many years ago, I discovered my local food bank by googling “food bank for the needy” plus the name of my city.
Thanksgiving Food Drive Shopping List
Boxed Stuffing Mix (like Stovetop)
Instant Mashed Potatoes in boxes or packets
Jars of Turkey Gravy or Dried Gravy Mix Packets
Canned Veggies (green beans, corn, peas)
Canned Pumpkin or Fruit Pie Filling
Pie Crust Mix
Salt and Pepper
Boxed Macaroni and Cheese
Fixings for Green Bean Casserole – Cream of Mushroom Soup, Canned Green Beans, French Fried Onions
Cake Mix or Brownie Mix and Can of Frosting
Powdered Drink Mixes
Can of Instant Coffee (Some families may not be able to afford coffee makers)
Box of Tea Bags
Can of Dried Coffee Creamer
Bag of Sugar
Bags of Dried Beans
Jar of Peanut Butter
Jar of Jam
Jar of Mayo
Boxes of Jell-O or Pudding Mix
Box of Cereal
Box of Crackers with Can of Spray Cheese
Box of Graham Crackers
Foil Baking Pans
Money Saving Tips:
When shopping for charity, you want to be able to give as much as you can, so you need to get your money’s worth. Here’s what works for me:
Take advantage of grocery store “Buy One Get One Free” sales.
Buy only store-brand items.
Shop at the dollar stores. You wouldn’t believe the deal on non-perishable foods and household supplies and families in need aren’t going to be picky about brand names or fancy stores.
Find inexpensive grocery stores that will honor sales, specials and coupons from other stores and load up. Many stores will even take double coupons. In my town Wal-Mart usually has the lowest prices and they accept competitor’s deals and coupons, so I save a ton by shopping there armed with the weekly flyers from other grocery stores.
Look for discontinued products and dented cans. Usually stores have a designated area for these items and sell them at deep discounts.
Speak with the store manager and explain what you’re doing. You may just receive some generous donations!
Most importantly, remember that people are hungry all year round, not just during the holidays. Donate whenever you can throughout the year and remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or get every single item on the list. Do what you can. Every little bit counts.