Volunteer for a food pantry

Volunteer column

by Cathi Hahner

The holidays are over and there is a tendency to forget that local food pantries still need help in order to provide for those in hardship. The pantries rely heavily on the good will and hard work of volunteers.

Volunteers can help local pantries in a number of ways. They can help in the office, sort donated food items, stock shelves or help clients select items for their family.

Another way volunteers can help is to organize a food drive or collect personal care items for a pantry. Ideas for food drives include: ask party guests to bring a food staple in lieu of presents; churches, organizations and clubs could designate a meeting date to collect items; hold a workplace drive. Contributions large or small are always needed.

Remember to keep food donations simple and include easy-to-prepare items.

•             Canned meats, fruits and vegetables are always a good option.

•             Fruit juices and breakfast cereals (hot and cold) are nutritious.

•             Peanut butter, pasta, canned sauce, boxed meals like Hamburger or Tuna Helper, rice and potato dishes are always good.

•             Flour, sugar, powdered or evaporated milk, salt and pepper are staples that most kitchens can use. Low sugar and low sodium options can be used as well.

•             Contributions of baby food and canned formula are always welcome.

•             Personal care items like soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste. Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper are always appreciated.

Local pantries include Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas (913-621-1504), Cross-Lines Community Outreach (913-281-3388), Metropolitan Lutheran Ministry (913-342-8333), Mt. Carmel Redevelopment (913-621-4111), Salivation Army Harbor Lights (913-232-5400) and Vaughn-Trent Community Services in Bonner Springs (913-441-0461). Some local churches host a food pantry on certain days. Check your church or one in your neighborhood.

For more information on how to give, advocate and volunteer, contact Cathi Hahner at 913-371-3674 or chahner@unitedway-wyco.org. You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out the website, www.unitedway-wyco.org and click on Volunteer.

Cathi Hahner is director of volunteer services for United Way of Wyandotte County.

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