The Surprising Things Food Banks Really Need This Holiday Season

Cans of soup are helpful, but these are the items that food banks really need

If you're going to donate, think beyond cans of soup. 

The Season of Giving is upon us, and while most of us have plans to spend the holidays with friends and loved ones, now is also the time to think of those less fortunate. If you’re going to donate food to food banks, there are some items that you may not realize that they need.

The Surprising Things Food Banks Really Need This Holiday Season (Slideshow)

There are two important criteria that you should keep in mind when deciding what to donate: the items must non-perishable, and they should be as nutritious as possible. The foods need to be able to be stored until they’re needed, and they need to deliver as many nutrients as possible to the person who eats it, because it might be one of the only things that he or she eats that day.

Keep in mind that most canned goods are very high in sodium, and most other inexpensive non-perishable foods are very low in nutrients. So if you’re going to donate, make sure that it’s low in sugar and sodium and high in protein, and remember that whole-grain alternatives are always better than foods made with simple enriched flour.

The goal of food banks is to provide nutritious meals and healthy options to those in need, and many also strive to educate people about proper nutrition. And don’t forget: food banks do a lot more than just feed people, so toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, diapers, feminine products, and deodorant are also in demand.

Read on to learn about some more items you might not have realized that food banks need, and read about great food-based charities that are worth donating to here. And if you’re making your delivery in person, cash is always appreciated as well!

All-Natural Juice

All-natural, 100-percent juice is a great source of vitamins (and the juice boxes are great for kids), but make sure that it’s all-natural; high-fructose corn syrup shouldn’t be an ingredient in anything that you donate.

Canned Tuna, Salmon, and Chicken


Protein, protein, protein. Many food banks struggle to provide those in need with enough protein, and these can be easily added to many other meals.