It’s that time of year when canned food drives pop up here and there — everywhere! You’ve probably seen a bin for donations at the grocery store. Local kids have probably come to your door. Your children’s elementary school might be having a contest between classes to see which one can collect the most pounds of food. It’s great, right? 

It is great. Food pantries will never turn down donations of non-perishable, non-expired canned food, but sometimes cash can make a bigger impact in the lives of the millions of food-insecure people in this country. Here are three reasons why you should consider a cash donation in addition to canned goods, or even instead of food:

Everyone gets exactly what they need

Shelf-stable canned goods are an essential part of every food pantry or food bank. However, the canned products on the shelves must be useable. When you give money instead of canned goods, the staff at the pantry can buy exactly what their clients need. That ensures that little to no food goes to waste.

Pantries use their connections

When you donate money to a food pantry, someone has to go out and buy food to stock the shelves. So isn’t it better to give the food directly? Not always. Food pantries, like Community Action Services and Food Bank, have relationships with grocery stores and others to get food at discounted prices. We participate in a grocery rescue program with local stores and get discounted and even donated eggs, bread, fresh produce, meat, and more. We’re using some of the 72 billion pounds of food that goes to waste every year, instead of sending it to the landfill. That’s why we can provide four meals to people in need for every $1 donated.  

Cash is easy to deliver

Have you ever tried to deliver a half-ton (or more) of canned goods? It takes trailers, trucks, and countless volunteers to load, drive, and unload. If the idea of coordinating delivery and volunteers is overwhelming, consider a cash-for-the-food-bank drive. Money is much easier to transport. You can walk into the food pantry and write a check or hand over cash, or make it even easier on yourself and give online

Community Action Services and Food Bank will never turn away a donation of useable food. But we love cash donations too. Cash donations ensure everyone gets exactly what they need, pantries can use their connections to get the best deals, and it’s easy to give and receive. If you still love the idea of a food drive, we love those too. If you’d like to give cash to help us stock our shelves, click here.