A food bank, as we know, is generally a non-profit organization that collects and distributes pantry and food items to people who are not capable of buying them or are struggling with hunger. Food banks may have smaller operations like serving people in a particular locality to huge facilities and stores that may store and distribute tons of food every year. They are dependent on donations and volunteers for all that they do. A food pantry reaches out to the people directly and may use mobile vans to reach remote areas.
Feeding America is one such extensive network, which receives donations from large food manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, and other organizations. They safely store the donated food and groceries to ensure proper distribution through food pantries. But this is just one way to fill up the pantry, and if you do not have reached such options, then there are a few other ways to help you fill up your pantry for free.
Little Free Food Pantries
The Little Free Food Pantry is a movement that is a solution to immediate and local food and pantry item’s need. It is not an organization but set up by neighbors who have regular jobs, families, and responsibilities. Since they see people’s real-life struggle, they set up small containers outside their houses or in the locality and fill them up with pantry items for free.
These boxes are weather-proof and have non-perishable items, toiletries, or baby and pet food. People who cannot purchase the pantry items can choose from these boxes and take the desired items. These are available all day round, and you can pick up the stuff whenever needed. But because all the things are free and donated, they will never be a choice in the items that are in the box. You have to be flexible while making a choice.
For example, if you need a particular kind of cereal, you don’t need to get them in the box, or there may be some canned chicken or canned tuna, which you might not pick up because you are a vegetarian. The Little Free Pantry is one such service that runs free food pantry groups. You may even search online to find a free food pantry near your surroundings.
Freecycle And Craigslist
These are entirely non-profit movements of people who wish to give stuff for free to the needy. The membership to these networks is free, and every item posted on the site is entirely free of cost. Individuals, as well as corporates, fund them. It instills a sense of generosity, strengthens the community’s bond, and promotes the reuse and sustainability of products.
But again, it is luck if people offer great offerings, or they may be just trying to get rid of unwanted stuff that is of no use. So at times, you might get the freshest of produce, all-purpose flour, whole milk, pantry staples, cooking oil, infant food, potatoes, spices, and even a jar of mayonnaise. But you cannot wholly depend on them for the offerings. It can be just an addition to the pantry, and you can cut down on the pantry bill.
Facebook Groups Like The Buy Nothing Project
There are Facebook groups that help share items in the neighborhood. Here too, the goods depend on the people in these groups. Some groups are full of food products that offer staple items to snacks and goodies. You may be lucky at times to get baking supplies also. Some groups donate items like pasta, black beans, rice, protein powder, coconut, baking powder, and even a chips packet. The donor will generally put the package outside the house at a particular time, and you can pick it up accordingly. You communicate with each other through Facebook Messenger and can easily search for such groups near your neighborhood through Google.
Many Gleaning groups in the United States and Canada find places where you can gather fruits, vegetables, or nuts for free. They then distribute them to the needy. There are a lot of groups doing this. Endless Orchard is one such group that lets you see a map of fruit trees in public areas accessible to all. Another group called the Falling Fruit also provides the map of edible plants and a list of organizations that share such produce. Non-profit organizations like the Village Harvest and Urban Food Forestry lists gleaning organizations that can help you.
Generally, dollar stores offer everything for a dollar, but at times a $1 coupon can get you things for free. There are various coupon matching sites, and all you need to know is where to find the coupon matching your dollar store. So you may be lucky enough to get your pantry supplies for free.
Every dollar that you save on the pantry essentials is worth the effort. These are a few great ideas to save money and stock up your pantry for free in easy and accessible ways. Always do your research to see what your community has to offer. If you have the resources to donate, local food banks and community pantries are a great way to help those silently struggling around you. Your community is here and willing to help, so never turn down these opportunities when you are in need.