- Holidays and Celebrations
How to Donate a Complete Holiday Dinner to a Homeless Person
The holidays are here. There are people who won’t be having turkey with all the fixings this Thanksgiving or Christmas. They are homeless. Or nearly homeless, and don’t have the means to buy the food, or have nowhere to prepare it.
Food pantries, feeding charities and churches take donations around this time of year to help the poor and homeless. You may even donate to one of them. The problem is what gets donated. Many of the donations are the same foods over and over again – peanut butter, pasta, rice, beans, and canned tuna.
Food pantries also get donations that are useless to the people they serve - pie filling, gravy, salsa, croutons, capers, and other things that are condiments and not “real” food. Imagine being unable to afford food because of job loss, illness or not earning enough to cover rent and food. You get a “food” bag at the food pantry and find that next week’s food is 2 pounds of white rice, 2 pounds of dried beans, one 6 oz can of tuna, and five assorted cans, where three of them are pumpkin pie filling, brown gravy and more beans. Your heart would sink with disappointment wondering how you’ll survive on this “food” for the next week.
This holiday season donate an entire dinner instead.
Put the following items in a gallon-size plastic bag:
1. Turkey & dressing shelf stable dinner
This is a shelf-stable, fully cooked dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy in one container. It requires no refrigeration, and can be eaten right out of the package, if need be. It can also be mircrowaved at the local convenience store too.
2. Canned peas, carrots or corn
Get the small cans with pull top (no can-opener needed). This is also shelf-stable and fully cooked. It can be eaten right out of the can or heated.
3. Butter flavored sprinkles
This is a real treat because it can be kept by the recipient to flavor other foods too.
4. Shelf-stable dessert
The dessert should be shelf-stable, individually wrapped and not need to be refrigerated. There’s a wide range of choices from fruit cocktail to snack cakes to cookies.
5. Boxed or canned milk
Choose a self-stable variety, that does not need to be refrigerated, and comes with a straw like a juice box drink.
6. A heavy-duty paper plate, several napkins, plastic spoon, fork and knife
This is to make it more enjoyable for the recipient to eat their dinner in style.
7. Individually-packaged wet wipes for clean-ups
This is a gift that keeps on giving. It can be difficult to clean up when you don't have a place to live.
8. Bottles of water
Several pint-sized bottles of water are great for now or later.
9. A pair of socks or gloves
Keeping your feet warm and clean when you're homeless is difficult, so adding a pair of socks is always a great holiday gift. A pair of gloves or mittens is also welcome.
10. A hand-written note
A hand-written note telling the recipient how much you love them and that someone is thinking about them will brighten their day.
Remember to write “Complete Turkey Dinner” in permanent marker on the plastic bag so the food pantry won’t separate the items.
If you decide to take your holiday dinners directly to the homeless, you can add other food items that the food pantry won’t take, like fresh rolls or cookies. Thanks for changing the way food is donated.