I’ve been seeing a “Ten Things Food Banks Need (But Don’t Usually Ask For)” list around the internet as well as in the December issue of RI Local. I drop off food at the RI Community Food Bank every few months, including at their lovely open house where I took these photos a couple weeks ago, and aside from the canned fruit and soup packets, I didn’t recall anyone mentioning items from that list (the other eight: spices, chocolate, canned meats and jerky, crackers and tortillas, hygiene products, toiletries, baby toiletries, and socks). The only non-food request from individuals on RICFB’s website was extra virgin olive oil, while their request for personal care donations was specifically directed to food industries. Does that mean I shouldn’t drop off some unopened diapers or shampoo? What about the socks and chocolates RI Local mentioned? Was I inadvertently denying an RICFB client a sweet treat and toasty feet? I emailed the RICFB for clarification, and Director of Annual Giving Jill Gonsalves was kind enough to respond.
Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s mission, Ms. Gonsalves stated, is to not just feed people, but to feed people well. She referenced the RICFB’s list of most-needed items and said that all of the foods on that list can be used to make a nutritious meal (the complete list of needs, to save you a click: peanut butter, tuna, canned & dried beans, canned chili/soups/stews, nutritious breakfast cereal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, boxed mac & cheese, granola bars, cheese & cracker packages, canned fruits & vegetables, dried fruit, tomato sauce, jam & jellies, and EVOO). She looked over the “Ten Things” list that I’d referenced and concluded, “The only items I would ask you to refrain from collecting are socks and chocolate.”
So there you have it. I should add that following RICFB on Facebook has allowed me to help in other ways besides food and funds. By voting for RICFB to win grants and contests, you can have a very real impact on your 63,000 fellow Rhode Islanders that the food bank helps support, with dignity, every month. That’s even sweeter than chocolate.