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View Diary: "I could have made myself an omelet too, but that would have meant no eggs for the weekend." (102 comments)

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  •  $20 to pantry could equal 200 lbs food distributed (36+ / 0-)

    voracious, that's a wonderful and generous act.  Thank you so much for posting it here, and for getting your kids involved in the purchasing.

    Donating store-bought goods is a wonderful thing, but giving directly to your local pantries and kitchens can be a 'force multiplier' for your donation dollars.  

    Pantries and kitchens get the bulk of their food from an area Food Bank, and the Food Banks work with a nation-wide organization like Feeding America.  Pantries and kitchens pay their Food Bank a 'shared maintenance contribution' of between $.14-.19 per pound for food.  This fee is further defrayed by local stores' donations of perishables (ie bread, produce, some cooler items).   Government-subsidized foodstuffs -- often bags of rice, beans and canned goods -- supplement the available goods and keep costs down.

    For example, my Food Bank's fee to distributors is $.16 per pound, but in-kind donations make it possible for my pantry to turn a $1 donation into 10 pounds of food.  This is the basis for the calculation in my title:  $1 = 10 lb, so $20 = 200 pounds.  (And please, if I've done this wrong, correct me in a reply!  Yes, I'm that bad at math!)

    People and groups give generously for food distribution during November and December; those donations drop sharply after the holidays, but people still need food for the  remaining 300 days of the year.

    It's a wonderful thing if someone can buy $20 of food to donate at one time.  To those who are in a position to be capable of such generosity, I'd like you to consider:  Would you be able to donate $2, or $5, or $10, or even $20 to a local pantry or kitchen each month so that shelves and bellies can be full each day of the year?  And could you also ask (or organize!) your similarly-situated friends to do the same?

    The value of your small, but regular donations to your local pantry or kitchen will be multiplied many times over, and you will be providing food for hungry people each day of the year.

    •  I never knew this. (25+ / 0-)

      Would you be interested in posting a diary about this? Maybe include some links to various organizations or give us suggestions on how to maximize our food donation dollars?

      We have a local food project that leaves a bag on our door and picks it up every other month, but I feel like a lot of those drives just get trash from pantries that no one eats. I try to donate healthy, tasty stuff. Just because people are poor doesn't mean they should have to eat my three year old can of jalapenos or the extra spicy enchilada sauce I bought by mistake.

      "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

      by voracious on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 11:24:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for suggesting a diary, voracious. (25+ / 0-)

        I wrote a longish comments a couple of weeks ago, on similar ideas, and someone asked me to do a diary.  I rarely diary, however and hesitated; also I was uncertain about the figures I used in that comment -- the info on various local websites was dated. I've since talked to my pantry and Food Bank, so I am confident that my numbers above are correct for my locale.  The link to that comment is below, if you care to read it.

        To answer your questions:

        First, let me say how grateful I am for your thoughtfulness regarding the 'clean-out-the-pantry' practices of some people -- I've certainly received my share of strange items in my monthly deliveries from time to time, that can only be accounted for by this practice. Now, pulling things from the pantry is fine, as long as the packaging is clean and intact and the 'use by' date is still good.  Food Bank staff and volunteers lose time in pulling out bent or damaged cans, or cans without labels, or out-dated cans, and a few still get through to the recipients.  Some things just plain need to be thrown out, and people can determine if that applies to a product by asking themselves, 'would I eat or serve this product to a human?'  Often, groups asking for pantry goods will spell out what kinds of goods, and in what kinds of condition, they will and won't accept.

        As to your suggestion that I write a diary 'with links to various organizations':  Well, a diary that maps the 'tree' of America's poor-folk food distribution would be great -- but far beyond my pay grade, I'm afraid.  If you want to look for that kind of overview, you cold look for at FeedingAmerica site ( ) to see how they do things.  (While retrieving that link, I saw that they have a gift-matching 'ask' for Thanksgiving active now.)

        The description of 'how it works' in the comment above is based on recent conversations with my pantry and local Food Bank.  My Food Bank is linked with Feeding America (there are a couple of similar large organizations, which I assume work in a similar way).  

        Rather than taking on the task of 'mapping' all this myself, I'd rather see individuals contacting their own local Food Bank to ask how their system works and what it costs a local pantry/kitchen to obtain a pound of food, and do the math for their own local situation.  For instance, my Food Bank told me that FeedingAmerica associates are all required to use that $.14-.19/pound range for their 'shared maintenance contribution' to the Food Bank.  My Food Bank stayed with a $.14 cost for years, and only recently upped it to $.16/pound because demand has risen so steeply.  This $.16/pound cost applies to all the food distribution outlets in a multi-county area.  So you can see that the Food Bank is your source for cost info for your larger area -- and I hope you can see that mapping that nation-wide would be too much for me.  (Although, who know?  There may be a website out there with all that info conveniently provided.)

        To your question of  'how to maximize our food donation dollars', I'd say this:  I think it would depend on circumstances in your area, as my response just above indicates.  But since (for the first time!) I now have the means to give small donations, I can tell you how I thought this through for myself:

        When I began receiving my very small Social Security Retirement money, my Food Stamps allotment was cut by over 50%, and it has been cut even more by the Nov 1 reduction.  So I have begun having to use my SS money to purchase most of my groceries and my Food Stamps are now truly a 'Supplement'.  Which is okay; I can make it, at least until Medicare deductions kick in, which is over two years away.  Be given this new-found wealth (!) along with my Food Stamps reductions, I realize that I'll have to start using the pantry again (I haven't had to for the last few years).  I also realized that I could begin to make a small donation, at least enough to cover my costs and fill up the hole I make in the pantry selves for the next guy.  This decided, I started to think about where to place those few dollars.

        I realized I could go with a 'trickle-down' or a 'trickle-up' idea.  I could give to Feeding America, which would trickle down to my Food Bank and its multi-county area, which would trickle down to the multiple pantries and kitchens in my country, including my pantry.  Or I could let my donation 'trickle up' by giving directly to my pantry, which would support our Food Bank through its 'shared maintenance contribution', which would support FeedingAmerica and allow them to to the bulk-buys and arrange huge product donations from corporations.

        My choice is to make my small, regular monthly donations to my pantry, and let it trickle up.  Your choice may be different, depending on your understanding of your local system, the various distribution points and the work they do, and other criteria known only to you.

        I appreciate your interest and your questions, voracious, and most of all I appreciate the active caring you've built into your life.  Thank you!

        (Oh and btw -- speaking as a recipient here?  If you can, when you give those little mac-and-cheese boxes, could you try to match them with small cans of tuna?  'Canned meats' are always on the lists for canned-food drives, and a small can of tuna or chicken can let pasta or rice become a protein-bearing meal for four.  Even a small can of salmon can become salmon-patties of a small salmon loaf for a 1-2 person household.  Thanks for all you do.)

    •  Mine says $1 donation = $9 food (13+ / 0-)

      On their website:

      I can't possibly give them $100 of food, but I can give them $11, and let them get $100 worth of food.

      Food drives are good, but ISTM that giving them the monetary value of whatever canned goods you would be giving them would go a lot further. If you have things lying around, go ahead and drop them off, but give cash instead of buying things to donate.

      "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

      by Hayate Yagami on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 12:40:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's wonderful but ... (9+ / 0-)

      we need to thoroughly get over the idea that the generosity of individuals who are increasingly struggling themselves makes up for the responsibility of government to assure the general welfare. There is no possible way that private charity and donations can make up for the cuts — even if we were all doing a little better.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:23:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I never realized the difference cash made until I (7+ / 0-)

      read an article my cousin wrote printed in papers across the nation just before Thanksgiving 2011 to encourage cash and not can donations. Food drives pained him a bit

      By contrast, suppose the donor gives money instead of food to a charity serving the hungry. Three things can happen. First, instead of going to the store to buy food, the charity takes the donated funds to an area food bank. There, for every dollar a donor would have spent, the charity can get about $20 worth of food. That's because food banks serve as nonprofit, wholesale-like clearinghouses for the food industry's surplus, charging only a nominal handling fee. So a $10 donation ends up leveraging as much as $200 worth of food for a charity.
      We had only gotten together a couple of times as adults but he was even kinder than the kind person he was when I was a child. He worked at food banking for 28 years and it was a true passion. I think of him often in these days of republicans so shaming those who need help because John was so dedicated to honoring their dignity.

      He died way too young a few months after that article. It wasn't until after he died I knew he was not just a dedicated and compassionate person but something of a giant in food banking. He had started the mobile pantry that so many Feeding America food banks use today and actually was instrumental in creating the Feeding America network of food banks

      Not that I heard about it at his funeral. He didn't have one. Thoughtful to the end
      In Memory of John Arnold, 1950-2012

      As “The End” began approaching for John’s life, he found himself thinking about how much time, travel, flowers, expenses, etc. would get consumed by his many friends from across West Michigan and around the U.S. if his passing was honored with more or less “traditional” funeral practices? And how much of that would be diverted from efforts to get food aid to needy people? That a single ounce of food could be diverted that way made John wince. So instead of doing any of it in those ways, he asked that he be quietly cremated and his ashes scattered, and that people wishing to honor his passing do one or more of the following:
      with a list of things like
      • Sign up to become an organ donor, or donate a pint of blood.
      • Donate funds to either or both of two causes particularly dear to John.
      • Be spontaneous in pursuing some significant act of kindness or charity on your own.
      What a cause, what a life...
      may his passion and compassion live on
      (An honor to be his cousin, if only by marriage)

      But anyway thank you for your post and I'm sure John thanks you!

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