How to Donate Food

This is part of our charitable “How To“ series. Today we are talking about food donation. Check back for more charity, donor related instruction!

1. Figure out what food items you have to donate: The thing to remember about donating food is that your items need to be unopened and not expired. Cans reign king among food donation items but the list of items in need is much more varied. “Healthy snacks” is a big food category on the Zealous Good site. Chicago Adventure TherapyCabrini ConnectionsFamily Focus, and Young Chicago Authors are all in need of food to promote healthy lifestyles among students and families in their programs.

GirlForward is in need of food to provide lunch 3 times a week to their group of 20 teen, refugee girls. Pediatric Aids Chicago Prevention Initiative is looking for healthy food for its community-based prenatal classes.

What food items will you donate?

2. Prepare your food for donation: Check the expiration date of your food items. Is the date in the near future or has it already passed? If your answer is yes, unfortunately, your food’s journey ends here. Discard the food and make a note to clear out your pantry more frequently next time.

Check for dents in cans. Not all dented cans should be trashed, BUT cans you plan to donate should resemble cans you see in the store. While it’s true, a recently dented can may not contain harmful contents, the organization you are donating to does not know the item’s history and cannot take that risk.

3. Find your food item’s home:  Begin your search by creating a profile on Zealous Good and writing a brief description of your food item. Then we’ll do the heavy lifting. We’ll find out what charities need your food and email you your options. You can research the charities we send you by clicking on their Zealous Good charity page and exploring their home site.

All Zealous Good charities are 501(c)3 status nonprofits meaning they are registered and legal nonprofit organizations i.e. your food item will go towards the cause listed. Outside of Zealous Good, The Chicago Food Depository is a great resource for donating food to Chicago’s pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Their “virtual food drive” offers a great alternative for busy people who want to give but don’t have the time.

4Schedule delivery: At Zealous Good we provide you with the contact information and tools to schedule the donation drop off or pick up directly with the charity. You’re almost there! Don’t give up!

 5. Feel good: You’ve found or bought a food item to donate, chose a loving home, and got it where it needs to be. It’s not everyday you make a difference in someone’s life. And don’t stop here! Now that you’ve got the tools there’s nothing to stop you from regularly donating and doing good!


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