While you’re thinking about end-of the-year tzedakah, you should also think about helping out your local food bank. According to news reports, rising food and energy costs, together with reduced help from the federal government, have created growing shortages for food pantries nationwide. (In a particularly perverse economic twist, a relatively healthy agricultural economy is contributing to this shortfall as there is less surplus available for food banks to purchase.) For further reading, here is a recent article from the New York Times, and another from the Chicago Tribune.
Next time you’re out shopping, why not pick up some extra food items and swing them by your local food bank? Obviously individual donations themselves will not overcome the shortfall, but I do believe every gesture makes a difference (especially if we encourage others to donate as well). If you aren’t sure about what to buy, here is what is commonly considered “one standard allotment” for a family of six or less:
Canned Meat: Meat Meal or Pasta Meal, Tuna or other Canned Fish
Beans: 1 Dry, 1 Canned
Canned Fruit: 1
Canned Vegetables: 2
Juice: Canned Concentrate, if possible
Pasta Sauce or Canned Tomatoes
Soup: 2 cans + Ramen or Dried Soup
Macaroni and Cheese
Breakfast Cereal or Oatmeal/Grits
Rice or Potatoes
Frozen/Refrigerated Food: Bread, Meat (1 per standard allotment), Produce, Milk
PS: Though not in a “standard allotment,” food pantries often need diapers too.
PPS: Thanks to my friend, journalist Emily Hauser for raising my awareness of this one…