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Things to NOT donate to a food pantry

When it comes time to donate to a food drive benefiting a food pantry, or to a food pantry directly, our hearts are in the right place. We are excited to give, so we normally go to our own cupboard and see what we can donate, or we head off to the grocery store to pick up a few items.

Did you know, though, there really are things you should NOT donate to a pantry? Even though our heart is in the right place, there are things pantries just can't take. Here's are a few things:

- Food that is past its expiration date. Even though most canned goods are edible well beyond their expiration date, we can't serve it to others.

- Dented or damaged cans. Once the integrity of a can is compromised, we can't serve it.

- Glass jars. They break easily.

- Left overs. Your heart is in the right place, be we can't take left overs of any kind.

- Baked goods. Your heart is in the right place, but we can't take it.

- Food that is repackaged. If food is not in it's original packaging, we can't serve it.

- Bulk food. While bulk items might be okay from time to time, especially when there's a family of 8, it's easier to give more than one jar of peanut butter than it is to give a 10 pound jar of peanut butter. So, smaller is better.

- Refrigerated items. Some pantries don't have the space for items that need refrigerated or frozen so for this one, it's safer to check with the individual pantry to see what their storage capacity is - if at all.

These are just some basics. Feed America has some good articles on what to donate and what not to donate. Or, when in doubt, just ask.

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