Want to Help a Food Pantry? Here's How!

Wyoming Hunger Initiative Regional Director Sierra Mitchell (and Director of the Afton Food Pantry in Afton, WY) knows people really want to pitch in to help a food pantry, but don't always know exactly what is needed. So, she created a list that will help! While it's always a good idea to give your local food pantry a call or stop by to ask what needs are greatest, this list can serve as a go-to resource when you're at the store.

  • Spices (especially salt and pepper) are NEVER donated yet would be so welcomed.

  • Baking supplies don’t get donated often but are most needed around the holidays when people are making more treats.

  • Strawberries, potatoes, and eggs are the most favorite fresh produce items although strawberries are also one of the most expensive produce items to buy.

  • A can opener is needed for almost all canned items however, those are never donated.

  • The holidays are the most costly for a food bank and turkey or ham is single-handedly the most expensive protein a food bank gives out.

  • Lots of boxed food requires butter or oil which are rarely donated.

  • Plastic grocery bags are always welcomed as they are one of most needed items.

  • Popcorn and cookies! Patrons love receiving a special treat once in awhile.

  • Honey is an item that’s never donated but would be great to give in the winter months.

  • You can never go wrong donating the top five needed items at a food pantry: cereal, pasta in any form, canned soups, canned meat like tuna or chicken, and peanut butter and jelly.

  • A food bank rarely receives donations of dish soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent, or other hygiene products but those are some of the most important yet overlooked items.

  • Diapers (and wipes!) are the most expensive item a food pantry gives out weekly and they are not covered by any government aid.

  • Monetary donations allow a food bank to buy exactly what they are currently low on and usually the food bank has ways of stretching the dollar to get more food.

And lastly, due to people having all kinds of different living arrangements who might rely on a food pantry, such items as paper plates and cups, disposable utensils, disposable hygiene wipes, and dry shampoo would be great items to give.


Just like food donations, volunteers are needed year round—not just at the holidays!