What to Donate and Where: Maine Food Pantry Needs

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Millions of Americans struggle with hunger.

Maine ranks 7th in the nation and first in New England in terms of food insecurity.

But before you donate, it's important to know what you should give and where.

"Come this time of year, it's getting colder. And oil, utilities and all that stuff is higher. People don't have enough money to spend on food, so a lot of them need a little boost."

Last year, Good Shepherd Food Bank distributed 20 million meals to families, children and seniors in need throughout Maine.

Partner agencies like Crossroads Ministries Food Pantry in Old Town see the impact food insecurity can have on area families firsthand.

"It's good when communities come together to help each other instead of thinking of themselves... And the look on their face makes it worth doing it."

During the holiday season, many are eager to clear their cabinets and give whatever they can. But even folks with the best intentions often donate food that pantries cannot use.

"The best way to know exactly what to donate is to ask."

Non-perishable food items, liked canned soups or tuna, whole grains, peanut butter and fresh produce are the best and most nutritional foods needed.

"Any nutritious pantry staples are always welcome... We try very hard to avoid anything going to waste. We do have to sort and inspect every single item that comes in."

Another way to help is to donate money.

Melissa Huston with Good Shepherd Food Bank says a $1 donation can provide four meals for a Mainer in need.

"It's true that the very best way to support an organization is with a financial gift. Because of the volume that we are dealing with, we can really leverage your support to reach the most people."

Whether it's one canned good or even a few dollars, a little goes a long way when it comes to fighting food insecurity in the state.

"So this is just a great opportunity to get to know what the needs are in your community and where you can have the most impact."

To make sure you're donating to a reputable pantry or non-profit, you can contact your town office or city hall, or visit feedingmaine.org