Food News

What you shouldn’t donate to your local food bank

CLEVELAND, Ohio — In a Facebook post now shared more than 200,000 times, a Cuyahoga Falls native compiled a list of food bank must-haves and those items you might want to hold off donating.

“I love people are talking about the needs of the hungry this holiday season,” said Kristin Warzocha, Greater Cleveland Food Bank CEO.

The trending topic on social media is appreciated at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, where demand is the highest it has ever been in its 40-plus-year history.

First up on that list: mac and cheese.

It may be a popular staple, but some claim they can’t prepare it because it needs milk and butter. But it’s not always a bad thing to give.

“Oftentimes they may have some of the real basics at home, so something like a box of mac and cheese can be put to good use,” said Warzocha.

Canned goods are always among the top donated item, but there’s concern about opening them if a can opener is hard to come by.

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Mike Brookbank | News 5

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank prepares food distributions for those in need.

“When we’re distributing food in our backpack for kids program, we almost exclusively distribute food with pop tops,” said Warzocha.

While some food pantries are well stocked with jars of peanut butter and jelly, the post reminds people that bread might be hard to come by.

News 5 learned that’s not the case in Cleveland.

“I’ll say we distribute truckloads of bread every week,” said Warzocha.

If you plan to collect food for the hungry during the holidays, here’s where you may want to start: peanut butter, cereal, pasta, canned soup, canned fruits and vegetables.

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Mike Brookbank | News 5

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank prepares food distributions for those in need.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank also takes personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and diapers.

“When someone is struggling to put food on the table, chances are very high they are struggling to cover their other basic needs as well,” said Warzocha.

Warzocha said if you want to make the biggest impact, you should donate money.

Every dollar donated can purchase four nutritious meals.

“When we buy by the semi load, we’re paying a lot less than someone pays at the grocery store,” said Warzocha.

For those who still insist on donating items, don’t just clean out your pantry, box it up, and stop by the food bank. Make sure it’s food you would serve your family.

“We get things that are dated a long, long, long time ago,” said Warzocha.