Thursday, September 8, 2011

Food pantries

This post was prompted by the Weight Watchers Lose for Good campaign. I love and am very grateful for Weight Watchers. It has changed my life, and I am really grateful for everything the program has taught me. Through Weight Watchers, I've lost 70 lbs.

The biggest thing I love about Weight Watchers is that I can eat real food, and that I can eat whatever I want. I cannot eat as much as I want of whatever I want, but Weight Watchers has taught me how I can "budget" for the foods I want and enjoy them in moderation. As someone who has never really done much of anything in moderation, this is a great skill for me to learn.

I read on a fellow Weight Watcher's blog about the Lose for Good campaign, where they ask you to donate something (a food item, a pound of food, etc) for every pound you've lost to a food pantry. I love this idea. I lately have felt very prompted to give more of my money away, and heard just last week about how many of our local food pantries are running very low on food. This is not a coincidence; I believe that this is a direct sign that I need to give food to these food pantries. I felt great about all of this.... (except for the food pantries being short; that part made me sad)

...then I thought to myself, "What should I give these food pantries?" I think canned food is gross and I really don't eat that much from bags or boxes or cans as I think they're mostly unhealthy (although convenient). I prefer fresh vegetables, milk, fruit, and obviously my favorite -- cheese! But I don't know how I can donate these, as they are harder to store and distribute than shelf-stable items. Also, I don't know how to effectively strike the balance between being like the fuddy-duddy who gave bags of carrots away for Halloween and the person who gives candy to kids in third world nations where they can't easily brush their teeth. I mean, what is the right answer? Donate some Ramen noodles and PopTarts? Or donate some bagged lentils -- surely those would not really be a huge hit, although they're healthy (and a personal favorite of mine).

I welcome your thoughts. Weight Watchers has changed for my life and I'd love to participate in their noble efforts to pay it forward via food drive donations...but paying it forward with unhealthy, sodium laden processed foods that played a major role in my own weight struggles just seems wrong. I don't know. Thoughts? Suggestions?


  1. You could contact the food bank and ask them what they need. Also, what about things like baby formula or baby food? Also, if you aren't comfortable with it still, what about donating an hour of time volunteering instead of donating food?

  2. What about whole wheat pasta/sauce, brown rice, dry beans, canned tomatoes (I use the fire-roasted diced ones all the time - really the only canned veg I use.) And maybe raisins/other dried fruit? Flour/sugar? I think what I'm going for is why not donate ingredients, rather than prepared food? I know these things tend to run toward Hamburger Helper and Chef Boyardee and canned green beans, but maybe helping people cook for themselves would be better.

    Amy's idea of asking what they need is also really good. And I LOVE the idea of Lose for Good!

  3. And some food pantries have a relationship with grocery stores & restaurants to take & distribute marked-out produce (Second Harvest?) Maybe one of those could let you bring fresh fruit/veg?

  4. I would contact a local food pantry - if it's a smaller one, then they know exactly what thier patrons need and will want(and baby items rock - especially diapers bc those aren't provided by WIC and cost a fortune! You could actually buy them online cheaper - if you go that route....)(churches and non profits sometimes have thier own food pantries too when you go looking.)

    But sometimes money makes a bigger imprint. Our City Mission for the homeless just makes food multiply more by your cash donation than by buying something from the store.

    Also, seasonal items are good... like around thanksgiving... stuff for pumkin pie or stuffing... because everybody wants the trimmings.

    Hope that helps! Oh - and I think it's awesome that you feel called to do this - keep us posted on what you end up doing! We have a food pantry at our church, so when there's a sale or when they start handing out lists of items then need... I'll buy things for them. Our church pantry has doubled in the number of families utilizing the services(not just from our church - the area). Hard times.


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