This time of year, food banks and food pantries are working extra hard to keep their shelves stocked.

For those in a charitable mood, you might wonder what these charities seeking for donations. Here are 10 ideas:


Warm feet can make all the difference, especially so at this time of year.


Spices are cheap, versatile and you can get them in bulk, so this is a great choice for a donation. A little cayenne pepper, for example, can add some extra, needed flavor to an otherwise bland meal.


Meat is a bit more expensive, and it can be a rarity at food banks.

Feminine products

You might not think that a food bank would have a need for tampons, pads or panty liners, but it's a constant concern for any woman living on the street. Food banks will gladly accept donations of feminine hygiene products, as their patrons frequently cannot afford them themselves.


Many states' food-stamp programs restrict their users to buying just food and food-related necessities. Unfortunately, this does not cover things like toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant or soap, so any of those items are a major help.

Dried Milk and Butter

Lots of items on shelves at food banks would be great to eat if only there weren't certain key missing ingredients, and frequently those problems can be solved by adding a little dry milk or butter.

Baby Formula

Another item that can be pretty expensive and thus hard to find at a food bank is baby formula. But many poor or homeless mothers are in desperate need of high-quality formula for their infants.

Fresh Fruit

A batch of fresh oranges or pears is a delicacy compared with the usual canned produce at food banks.

Diabetic-Friendly Foods

Diabetics have very specific dietary needs, and it can be extra difficult to regulate your blood sugar if you have to rely on food banks. So keep in mind items like brown rice, whole-grain foods and things with reduced sugar.


If you're in any doubt about what's best to give, money is always an excellent choice.

So, Help Out

Among food banks in Grand Rapids are:

There is other food and hunger assistance to be found in Kent and Ottawa counties:

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