The holiday season is rife with people looking for ways to give back to their communities. One of the most common ways to give back is to donate to a shelter. Donations will come in the form of time, money, or giving canned goods to a shelter.

We will outline some of the best foods to give to your local shelters and food banks and why these are recommended.

Peanut Butter

One of the all-time staples of foods that food banks and shelters always request are (plastic) jars of peanut butter. But next time you reach for a jar to donate, consider picking out an almond butter instead.

While it is guaranteed to be more expensive, it is a great substitute for those that cannot eat nuts but would benefit from a PB&J sandwich.

Also consider how great it will feel for the person that is begging but they are forced to also be choosy when it comes to what they can accept due to allergies. You will have a chance to help the overlooked of the overlooked when it comes to a meaningful donation.

Instant Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish for any holiday meal. Many people that are without a home are also without easy transportation like a car or Uber.

Instant Mashed Potatoes are the best solution for this problem. A small bag that can cost less than a couple of dollars can supply someone with a large pot of mashed potatoes, making this one of the most effective donations you can make.

Meals in a box

Few things are as helpful as a box of Hamburger Helper or Velveeta Mac and Cheese. Either the ingredients are in the box or require a few additional and easily acquirable items to make a large meal.

These items are a blessing for families that need a little extra help for the holidays.

Make sure to purchase unsalted nuts if you choose to buy them for any organization.

Some Additional Tips for Donating

Pop-top lids > Cans that require a can opener

Can openers are a small item that many of us take for advantage. But when your belongings need to fit into a backpack or shopping cart, you might not have the room for a proper can opener.

Not only does literally everyone prefer pop-top lids, but their function is incredibly helpful in a very small way.

Avoid anything packaged in glass

Traveling with glass jars of food can be precarious when you do not have reliable transportation. Not to mention how harmful it can be in case of an accident or if it gets dropped and spills everywhere.

Dog Food

Many that are homeless also have dogs, which is an overlooked aspect of homeless life. Shelters could use donations of dog food the most.

Instead of buying large quantities of dog food to deliver to shelters, calling ahead and finding the specific needs of the shelter would go a long way.

Just because someone is homeless does not mean they would not enjoy the same kinds of food someone who is not housing challenged enjoys.

Would you like to eat nothing but cans of beans and green beans? No? Then why would you only give only those items?

Better question: would you eat those expired cans of produce in your cabinet? No? Then why would you give it to someone else?

Those that are experiencing homelessness deserve the same nutritious food as everyone else.

Please take a few more minutes to pick out the best food and do not be afraid to spend just a little bit more. Those small considerations can help make someone’s day.