How to Be a Great Food Pantry Donor!
Lessons from the field

Freeport Community Services is the backbone organization supporting Age-Friendly Freeport/Pownal. FCS provides attractive, nutritious food to shoppers of all ages. 

Click here to download the complete list of year-round  items needed by food pantries

At this time of year, much additional attention is given to providing food for all. The food pantries, located state-wide, are deeply involved in these efforts. Each individual pantry is designed to meet the unique needs of the community it serves. Pantries with New Mainers as clients strive to provide culturally appropriate foods, for example. The Good Shepherd Food Bank says that there is plenty of food - it is the distribution that can be the challenge - especially in our sprawling state. And they work hard to address that problem.

Each pantry is unique – ask!

No one knows their clients as well as the pantry staff. Not sure what to donate? Just ask - the staff and volunteers are happy to talk with you. For example we learned a common item that is needed is a can opener. Who would have thought? Another pantry shared that liquid soap is better than bar soap. Conversely, food can be wasted if no one wants it. One volunteer told us this was the case recently with some donated oat milk. So check with your local pantry to see what their needs are before you donate. 

Pantry clients are also unique. One community sought to reduce the stigma some individuals felt about using the pantry by letting them volunteer in the pantry and then take the food they needed. This is private and the brainchild of a director who knew of a need and found a way to provide the volunteer with food - and dignity.  

No Used Food, Please

People who get upset when confronted with food waste get really upset when so much is left over following a wedding or other celebration - food that they cannot donate. Most pantry managers have encountered the problem and sometimes, endure some harsh words. Blame this rule on food safety rules and various government agencies who monitor such things. Pantries near popular event venues are especially stressed. One created a sign - displayed prominently in the manager's office - explaining this policy and the reason for it. Check the rules BEFORE planning your next event and see if your venue has other options for your leftover food. 

Cash is King!

Donating money enables the pantry to buy what they need. The Good Shepherd Food Bank has a robust distribution network that supports many local pantries by coordinating collection and distribution of food staples. However pantry managers all rely on cash donations to supply unusual needs. They especially value the reliable donors who make regular, predictable contributions. Bottom line, Maine people support each other. In the Age-Friendly/Lifelong Communities, partnering is commonplace. And many of these partners attack food insecurity - together.

Always needed (Click here to download PDF of list):


Other Supplies

Personal Care Products

We learned:

Each pantry is unique – ask!