Bulletin #4304, A Food Pantry Wish List

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Food for ME: Citizen Action for Community Food Recovery

woman shopping for groceries

Originally prepared by C. Joyce Kleffner, Extension educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Revised and updated by Kate Yerxa, Extension educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

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Take this chart with you when you go grocery shopping to help you choose healthy foods to donate to the food pantries, or use it to help you organize a community food drive.

Check with your county University of Maine Cooperative Extension office for a listing of pantries or food assistance programs in your area and accompanying donation information, or visit the County Search for Food Assistance Programs on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources website.

If you want to donate fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables or other perishable food items, please call the food pantry first to be sure they can accept them. Keep these items refrigerated or frozen to keep them safe.

Food Items to Donate

Protein Foods: Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, and Nuts

  • canned tuna
  • canned chicken
  • canned beef stews
  • canned salmon
  • bean soups
  • canned or dried beans
  • baked beans
  • canned chili
  • peanut butter
  • canned nuts

Grains: Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta

  • rice and rice mixes
  • canned pastas
  • noodle mixes
  • dry noodles and pastas
  • macaroni and cheese mix
  • cold cereals
  • bran cereal
  • shredded wheat
  • infant cereal
  • hot cereal mixes
  • oatmeal
  • bread, muffin, and pancake mixes
  • whole-grain crackers
  • granola bars
  • graham crackers
  • flour
  • bread

Dairy: Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese

  • infant formula
  • nonfat dry milk
  • evaporated milk
  • instant breakfast drinks
  • shelf-stable (UHT) milk (small boxes)
  • canned and boxed pudding


  • canned vegetables
  • vegetable soup
  • canned tomato products
  • spaghetti sauce
  • baby-food vegetables
  • V-8 juice


  • canned fruit
  • raisins
  • applesauce
  • dried fruits
  • baby-food fruit
  • fruit leather (100% fruit)
  • canned and boxed 100% juice

Oils and Condiments

  • vegetable oil
  • salad dressing
  • syrup
  • jelly and jam
  • honey
  • sugar
  • mayonnaise

Non-Food Items to Donate

Certain non-food items may also be welcome. Call your local food pantry to see what they need.

Paper Products

  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • napkins
  • tissues

Soap Products

  • hand soap
  • laundry and dish detergent
  • cleaning products

Personal Care Products

  • shampoo
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • shaving cream
  • razors
  • deodorant
  • feminine hygiene products


  • tea
  • coffee
  • spices

How you can help recover food

To get involved in community food recovery, use the ideas in the Food for ME fact sheets, call the National Hunger Hotline at 800.453.2648 (800.GLEAN.IT) or 866.348.6479 (866.3.HUNGRY), or visit WhyHunger.

Food Recovery Resources

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 1998, 2011

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