Help Food Pantries: Give Money, not Food

So, I woke up this morning at 6 AM and drove two hours to go to a financial fitness fair, only to learn shortly thereafter that the event had been cancelled! What a sad day that was! Hopefully they will reschedule. What does this have to do with today's blog post? Well...nothing actually. I just thought I'd share my day with you. Don't you feel special?

I talked a fair amount about Maine Credit Unions' Campaign for Ending Hunger a bit last month. I walked with Brenda Davis and talked about helping the less fortunate who are in need of a hot meal this holiday season. One of the things I did not discuss was food drives in the area. Often times around this season, many businesses and organizations will hold food drives to help local food pantries. Coworkers bring in canned goods or non perishable food items, and those items will then be donated to the nearest food pantry. Although I had heard it before, I found an interesting article today about how we should actually "boycott" the food drives that are being held, and instead give a money donation to the local pantries and cupboards instead. Why you may ask? Let me explain!

Money Goes Further

You go off and buy some canned food/non perishable food items and bring them to the food pantry. Congratulations! You have just done your good deed for the month...but wait. Did you know that money actually goes further at a food bank, rather than buying the items yourself? According to the Business Insider article (that I linked above), food providers (cupboards/pantries) are able to purchase food at a rate of about ten cents per pound. We the consumers buy the same food at a rate of about two dollars per pound. Yes, buying that can of green beans was nice, but your money can go so much further if you give a money donation rather than a food donation. If you average ten cents on the pound, it means that one dollar being used at the food bank is buying ten pounds of food for needy people. BOOYAH!

Food Banks Know What They Need

According to this article as much as 50 percent of the food that is donated and sent home is left uneaten and unused. You may think to yourself "beggars can't be choosers!" but you'd be wrong. People have food allergies, and they aren't guaranteed to get a box of food that they'll be able to eat completely. What if someone has a gluten or nut allergy? Chances are, they will not be able to use all of the food they have been given. Food banks also have certain nutritional standards that they try and maintain to make sure people are getting the nourishment they need. Buying food is nice, but giving money is even better. The food banks are able to pick and choose what they need for their clientele. Money ensues that people are fed, and they are eating food that will keep them nourished.

No one should ever go with an empty stomach, whether it's one meal, one day or one week. I'm not saying don't donate food to your local cupboard, but consider donating money instead. You may just help feed a few more mouths this holiday season!

Do you donate money/goods to help end hunger in Maine?

Seth P.