Thursday is Thanksgiving and that means not just balloon-filled parades and massive meals—it also means it is time for the annual moment where Americans across the country go "Oh, crap, we should probably give some food, time or money to the needy." But do note: as most sitcoms should have taught you by now, food pantries really need your help on days that aren't Thanksgiving or Christmas. And if you want to to give food, well, there are lots of things you probably shouldn't be giving. Like sugary drinks and junk food.
Though most people who donate food to food banks do so with the best of intentions, they often give over stuff they don't want or that has been sitting in their closets for ages and has no real nutritional value—like sodium-filled ramen noodles. "We say, if that's what you're going to give, turn around and get a bag of rice," the executive director of a food bank in Milwaukee told the AP. "It's just as good a value, it lasts for more meals and there's no salt."
Things that food banks would like include low-sugar cereals, peanut butter, canned vegetables, bags of beans, rice, canned tuna and powdered milk. Things that they don't want include foods high in sodium, fat, oils or sugar, chips and candy, sugary drinks, expired foods and things in glass bottles.
And y'know what is an even better gift than food? Money. Because food banks can order their food wholesale they can get a much better bang for their buck than you can. And a lot of food banks have matching programs that make your (tax-deductible) donations go even further. For instance over at the Food Bank for New York City anything you donate here will be matched. Or, also at the Food Bank for NYC, you can start a virtual food drive to help enlist your friends in an effort to end hunger. For more information on helping out on the holidays, click here or here!