How to Decide to Donate Money or Food to Food Banks

Box of food ready to be handed to a client in a food distribution

As we move closer to the holiday season, many individuals and organizations will ramp up giving campaigns. During this time of year, many people feel more generous and often donate money or food to help the less fortunate in the community.

Did you know that food donations are helpful for food banks, but donating money can make a more significant impact on the community?

Food donations incur extra costs due to handling and storing. Money donations allow the food bank to purchase what’s needed and at a lower cost than community members can buy. Deciding to donate money or food to food banks is a great idea, but if you can, opt for donating money for food instead.

Problems with Food Donations

Food banks rarely turn away food donations. It ultimately helps support their cause to feed less-fortunate community members. However, it does create more issues for food banks. There are extra costs associated with sorting, handling, and storing the food. Someone needs to be able to sort it all, and unfortunately, there are often not enough volunteers to assist. It also creates more overhead costs with having to store the food donations.

The other issue with food donation is that you often get mismatched canned goods. It’s hard for the food recipients to create healthy, cohesive meals with a random can of tuna, black beans, and peas.

Additionally, most food donated is canned food, which tends to be high in sodium. Therefore, food banks are often low on fresh produce, dairy, and meats that their customers need for a healthy diet. You probably shouldn’t donate another can of food to a food bank until you read this article.

New Concerns in 2020

When you decide to donate money or food to a food bank, choosing food can also evoke some COVID-19 concerns. Food banks often don’t know where the food is coming from or if any individual in the house has or had COVID. Fewer people should handle the food at food banks, as well.

Choosing to donate money to a food bank alleviates these concerns. There are no additional overhead costs, they can buy what they need for their customers—including fresh foods—and there’s less chance of spreading COVID-19.

Money Donations Can Help More People

When it comes to donating money or food to food banks, monetary donations can go further. The buyers at food banks can often get food at a wholesale or negotiated price that regular consumers, who buy food at the local grocery store and donate it, cannot. Therefore, a $5 donation can go further when donated directly to the food bank rather than purchasing $5 worth of food.

There are also fewer overhead costs associated with donating money to food banks. There’s no need to sort or store the money like there are food donations, so people in your community benefit more from having a monetary donation. Food banks can also buy excess produce from farmers, thus reducing food waste and providing fresh food and nutrients that are needed to keep your community healthy.

When you choose to donate money to a food bank, you are also helping to supply food needs year-round. Most giving occurs during the end of the year when the holidays are in full swing, and people feel more generous. However, the people who utilize food banks need food every day of the year, not just during the holidays. When you donate money, food banks can purchase food during the months when donations are slower.

If You Donate Food, Be Selective

When deciding to donate money or food to a food bank, if you still choose to donate food, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Be selective as to what you contribute. Instead of giving an old can of corned beef, buy foods with meals in mind. Fresh ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes would go great with a taco kit. Purchase beans, ground beef, chili sauce, and canned tomatoes for chili.
  • Instead of buying flats of the same canned item, check out the food bank’s website and see what items they urgently need and buy those. Frequently, food banks need specific things and post a list on their website with the information. You can also call the food banks for this information.
  • Also, be selective as to when you donate. Many organizations hold food drives during the holiday months, leaving an even more significant need during the spring and summer months. Consider donating food during these slower times to help food banks distribute food consistently year-round for those in need.

Additionally, consider volunteering with us to help lower overhead costs associated with sorting and handling the food donations.

Should I Donate Money or Food to a Food Bank?

Ultimately, you should donate money to a food bank. The money will go further in supporting the food bank’s mission to feed the hungry in our community. If it’s in your heart to provide food for our community, please consider donating to Blessing of Hope’s ongoing campaign, Growing2Feed.

About Our Growing2Feed Campaign

Blessings of Hope Building

This campaign provides the necessary funding for our operation to move to a much larger distribution center. The new facility will allow Blessings of Hope to reach millions of low-income families with food. In the first five years of operation, we estimate the expansion will enable us to donate over 100 million meals.

When you donate money to this campaign, you’ll help us store five times the amount of food as our current location. It will also allow us to help supply food to third-world countries and disaster relief organizations. The funds will also let us put more monetary donations towards food, instead of building space and rent. Support our Growing2Feed Capital Campaign today and make all of these blessings possible for those in need.