A family volunteering at a food pantry organization.

What your food pantry really needs

Helping your local food pantry goes beyond just donating food. It is a great way to help your community.

Millions of Americans, including children, struggle with hunger and food insecurity every day. Food pantries have needs year-round and are a wonderful resource for local communities. Keep in mind, there are many ways for you to provide community service or help a local food pantry beyond food and monetary donations.

What do food pantries need?

Non perishable food items

Food pantries typically need many canned foods, dried goods and items that can stay fresh for a long time. These food provide high nutrition and include things such as peanut butter, canned beans, canned chili, canned soup, canned fruit and vegetables, canned fish and more.

Perishable food items

There is a common misconception that food pantries don't accept perishable items. Be sure to check before donating but many do accept them. Examples include eggs, vegetables, fruits, bakery goods, herbs, nuts, and other items that help with the nutrition needs of those they serve.

Basic care needs

Examples include shampoo, toothpaste/toothbrushes, toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent, paper goods and more. Some also accept clothing items such as socks, winter accessories and other items. Your local food pantry could give you ideas of other things that are in high demand.

Baby items

Diapers, wipes, baby formula, baby food and other baby care items are generally needed year-round at many food pantries.

Pet food

Some people in need also have pets in need. If you have extra unopened pet food, check if your local food pantry accepts this.

Monetary donations

Generally monetary donations are accepted throughout the year but are especially welcome and needed during the holiday times.

How can I help my local food pantry?


Food pantry volunteers are an important and critical need in order to stay open and provide as much help to as many people as possible. Having as many volunteers as possible or on a rotation helps keep the doors open.

Involve your family

Volunteering as a family or with your kids can be a great way to instill a spirit of giving at a young age and make a difference together.

Donate to your food pantry year round

The need for consistent year round help is important for food pantries to function. They generally see an influx of donations during the seasonal, holiday or winter months. Unfortunately their needs don’t subside the rest of the year, so a steady flow of incoming donations is important.

Coordinate a food drive

Food drives work best in groups with a firm schedule or structure such as an office, church or neighborhood.  It is usually a fast and easy way to collect a lot of much needed food and items for distribution at the food pantry.

Grow foods to donate

A community or urban garden is an excellent way to grow much needed foods that food pantries need.

Food pantries are a great way to help those in need. Additionally, there are other ways to give back to your community. Experience the benefits of making this world a better place, one act of good at a time.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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