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The items food pantries really need this holiday season

Picture of a fully stocked pantry
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A group of young adult friends volunteer time working at a food bank, processing donations of packaged food products and clothing. Overhead view of them sorting canned food.

The holiday season is coming up, and it's one of the busiest times of the year for food pantries. This year, it's more expensive for food pantries to stock their shelves due to increased food prices. Inflation has also contributed to fewer monetary donations from supporters. These factors have made more people rely on food pantries like the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati and Be Concerned in Covington.

With neighbors and these organizations needing help, here are a couple of ways you can help support both during their busiest season.

Donate items

One way to help is by donating items. Consider hosting a food drive for pantry, personal care or baby-related items.

The Freestore Foodbank distributes 37.7 million meals each year to people in the Tri-State area. To help it continue to distribute meals, you can host a virtual food drive by getting your friends, neighbors and coworkers to donate money through a personalized link. The Freestore Foodbank will buy items they need from the money you donate.

You can also donate personal care items and drop them off at 112 East Liberty Street, where volunteers will unload the items from your car. Glass items are not accepted.

Here are some of the personal care items needed

  • Disposable diapers
  • Baby Wipes
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Combs 

You can also host a pantry, baby shower, or personal hygiene drive for Be Concerned, Northern Kentucky’s largest free food program. Donations can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1100 Pike Street in Covington, or 525 Graves Street in Erlanger.

Needed pantry donations:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably donated on Mondays because of their short shelf lives)
  • Household cleaning items
  • Bread
  • Cereal 
  • Crackers
  • Canned items
  • Can openers
  • Pasta
  • Flour
  • Cooking oils
  • Dog and cat food. 

See Be Concerned’s suggestions for needed personal hygiene and baby-related items. They also accept thrift store donations.

St. Vincent de Paul also accepts food pantry and thrift store donations. To donate pantry items, email dschoenherr@svdpcincinnati.org or call 513-853-1012. You can also purchase items through St. Vincent de Paul’s Amazon wish-list. Call 513-421-2273 to schedule a free pickup of items you want to donate to the thrift store.

Needed Thrift store donations:

  • Socks
  • Clothing
  • Clean furniture
  • Small appliances
  • Household decorations
  • Jewelry
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Tools
  • Sporting goods, bikes and toys
  • Shoes
  • Books, records, DVDs and CDs
  • Dishes, pots and pans
  • Sheets and blankets
  • Baby products

Other ways to help for the holidays

Many food pantries have annual holiday traditions that need supporters.

For over 50 years, the Freestore Foodbank has provided families with boxes of food to make a meal for Thanksgiving and December holidays. You can donate money to support the holiday food distribution.

Be Concerned hosts an annual Christmas store for families to pick out toys for their kids. In 2021, 721 children got new toys for the holiday season through this yearly tradition. Click here to purchase an item from their Amazon Christmas wish-list.

St. Vincent de Paul also needs people to donate toys for their angel toy collection. Donations of new, unwrapped toys that are around $20-25 can be dropped off Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. You can drop off your donations at 1146 Bank St., 45214. The deadline to donate toys is Wednesday, Dec. 7. Sign up to donate here.

You can also sponsor a family this holiday season. Through St. Vincent de Paul’s Christmas Together program, you will be matched with families in need. As a sponsor, you will get the family’s wish-list to purchase. You can expect to spend $100-150 per person. Click here to sign up.

See all of St. Vincent de Paul’s seasonal holiday programs here.

Volunteer

Donating your time can help food banks run smoothly, especially during the busy holiday season.

You can volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank by helping with programs like the holiday food distribution.

Click here to see all of Be Concerned’s volunteering opportunities, which include helping with the Christmas store and restocking the pantry.

St. Vincent de Paul also has numerous volunteering opportunities, like helping with the angel toy distribution.

Donate money

Donating money is always a great way to help food pantries. Every dollar donated to the Freestore Foodbank can help provide three meals. Here's a link to donate.

Be Concerned distributes 60-70 pounds of food to each family monthly. Your donation will help purchase the most needed pantry items. Click here to make a one-time donation to Be Concerned. If you want to support the Christmas store without heading to Amazon, make a donation here. This donation will go toward buying Christmas toys from the Amazon wish-list.

Donating to St. Vincent de Paul will help feed and house people in need. Donate here.

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Marianna is a fourth-year Creative Writing and Rhetoric and Professional Writing student at the University of Cincinnati. She is a current intern at WVXU. In her free time, she likes going to museums and coffee shops. She would like to be a journalist or an editor in the future.