Food Pantry

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Just a quick word of advice and one that I don’t always think of.

I spent this morning helping to fill Christmas food baskets with my church’s St. Vincent de Paul Society. I am one of the people who benefits directly from this group, and I wanted to give back something.

I was in charge of cake mixes and corn bread.

I almost never check expiration dates. Not at the grocery store, not in my own pantry. I assume it’s good, and if it’s slightly outdated it’s still not bad. I mean, I tell my husband all the time that you could use the cans fro WWII. He does not agree. However, if something expired nine months ago, it’s fine.

It really is.

However….

when you’re donating food to a food pantry or church, clearing out your unwanteds is a win-win for everyone, but please, please check the expiration dates.

A group like this can’t give out expired food.

For one thing, many people receiving the basket from the food pantry probably won’t check the dates. (I wouldn’t.)

I threw out about ten or so boxes of food because of the dates. Most had expired in 2012/2013, but I had two older than that – one from 2008 and one from 2004.

There are many ways to donate. One is buy a couple of extra boxes/cans on sale when you’re doing your regular grocery shopping. Another is donating money. Most of us can’t afford to give away a lot, but every dollar adds up, and if you put it in an envelope and mark it for the food pantry, it really is appreciated. (In our case, families with children get three $15 gift cards to the local supermarket chain. Some families this year received a coupon for a free 14 pound turkey from another chain.

Our group had 125 families from three churches receiving food and Christmas gifts. They made three extra food baskets for surprise walk-ins. Any leftover food goes down to the city’s food pantry. Then they start collecting again.

More and more this is a need that people request all throughout the year, not just at the holidays, so it’s never too early or too late to donate as long as the expiration dates are far enough in the future.

Before we started, we are reminded of why we’re there: as Christians, we are called to act as Christ would, and helping the poor is at the top of that list. We then start our morning off with the Lord’s Prayer

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