5 Ways To Donate Food To The Poor

If you like to cook or raise a garden, here are some ways you can use your food skills or gifts to help the poor.

Those of us on low budgets may not be able to afford cash donations to people in need. Instead, we often rely on our personal skills or special gifts to help others.

People who enjoy cooking by experimenting with various recipes or filling the kitchen with delicious odors and lovely presentations can put their gift to work in the service of others by donating special meals or dishes to people who are less fortunate. Those who raise vegetables or can fruits each year likewise can contribute their produce to a good cause rather than letting it go to waste by rotting on the ground. Here are some tips for using food gifts and skills to help others:

1. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Wherever you live, there is bound to be at least one, if not many, soup kitchens or meal programs operating to feed people who are homeless or unemployed. Offer to help a few hours each month by cooking meals in your own special way or adding accents to a routine dish. For example, you may want to bring in your homemade chutney for a special touch, or add a few herbs to the spaghetti sauce, with the supervisor's permission of course. The point is to share your expertise with those who might not expect it anywhere but a gourmet restaurant.

2. Teach a cooking or canning class at a social service agency. Single parents, unemployed folks, and disabled persons may enjoy the opportunity of learning a few tricks about fancy food preparation or preservation. Most of us have to pay for such skills, so your offering to teach them for free will be appreciated by many. If you bring your own supplies, you may be able to write them off as a tax donation. Find out by consulting with the agency or your tax accountant.

3. Drop off extra meals or baked goods at an agency that dispenses food. If you grew an abundance of carrots this year, package them up and drop them off at the local food bank. Call first to find out if they are accepting produce, as well as guidelines for where and when to make your donation. Corn, tomatoes, squash, and other produce may be welcome to food centers that deal mainly with dry goods.

4. Donate canned fruits or vegetables to organizations that fight hunger. Canning your left-over produce is a great way to preserve it for others' use. Find out if a local food center will accept canned food as donations. If not, perhaps your church could use it for their cupboard to help the needy, or the children's school may accept canned goods for the fall or spring festival or fund raiser.

5. Work with underprivileged children to show them the value of food preparation. You may want to volunteer at a community center to teach children in an after-school program how to clean, prepare, and combine healthy foods for good nutrition. Donate some produce for them to work with, perhaps saving some for making gourd crafts or pumpkin faces for fun. Bring along some treats made from your goods to show them how tasty such foods can be when cooked skillfully.

You don't have to be a world-class gourmet chef to donate food to needy persons. A big heart and fresh harvest or canned items will be adequate in sharing your bounty with others.

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