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What to Donate to a Food Bank

Donated food is essential to any food bank. Whether it’s canned vegetables or a box of cereal, these donated products go straight into the community without using the Food Bank’s donated dollars to purchase food products. Once donated, your contribution will be sorted by our dedicated volunteers and distributed to our network of nearly 420 Partner Agencies where they will be available for our Middle and West Tennessee neighbors at risk of hunger.

But not just anything can be accepted by a food bank for donation. You should know a couple of things about food donation and Food Drives before you clean out your cupboard.

Please make sure you are only donating non-perishable items. This means any canned or dried foods that would be considered “shelf-stable” and have not passed the “sell-by” date printed on the packaging.

Some of Second Harvest’s most-needed items include:

  • Peanut Butter (or other nut butters)
  • Canned Chicken or Tuna
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruit
  • Dried pasta
  • Uncooked Rice
  • Canned or Dried Beans
  • Cereal

These are all items that are high in nutritional value, easily accessible for people with physical disabilities, and have a long shelf-life. These items are essential to pair alongside fresh produce, dairy, and protein for a balanced diet without requiring regular grocery visits that are difficult for those without reliable transportation or who have mobility issues. 

There are also several items Second Harvest cannot accept as food donations for various reasons:

  • Refrigerated items
  • Expired food
  • Leftovers
  • Baked goods
  • Fresh produce
  • Anything in a glass container

These items are not accepted because they may not be easily transportable or will not be safe for consumption by the time they are distributed to our Partner Agencies.

Now that you know the in’s and out’s of food donation, it’s time to get involved! Second Harvest offers many ways to engage your community and join the fight against hunger.

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