‘Oldest product we’ve ever found was from 1982’: Food pantry says don’t just clean out your cupboard
While food donations are appreciated at local organizations this holiday season, those on the frontlines of food insecurity say don’t assume you know the needs of the community, as needs vary by ZIP code.
Catholic Charities distributes 250,000 pounds of food every month. That used to be the same amount it gave out in a year.
Inside one food pantry at Saint Martin De Porres in North Omaha, hope awaits the hungry.
“This amount of food will be depleted in a day,” said Mikaela Schuele, director of food and emergency services for Catholic Charities.
She said there are more people than ever using food pantries.
“Some relief programs for the pandemic has sort of fizzled out and so families are now actually in a worse place than they were during the pandemic,” Schuele said. “We are seeing an increase in our numbers.”
Schuele said they want donors to be aware of the needs and wants of those they serve and where they live.
“We aren’t a kind of pantry that operates on, ‘You’re in need so just be happy with what we give you.’ We see individuals as the same as we are,” she said.
Schuel said often times donors just give what they have on hand.
“I think the oldest product that we’ve ever found was from 1982 or something,” she said.
Volunteers have to throw away a lot of expired food.
“While we are grateful for any donations we receive, it’s very important you dignify the people you are providing food to,” she said.
She said to think about what you would want to eat or give your family, as well as giving all the ingredients.
“There is always some sort of a missing component where they think of the staple but think of how you want to flavor those items,” she said.
Add a can opener if the can of food doesn’t have a pop-top.
If you donate pasta, don’t forget the sauce.
Peanut butter? Bring the jelly and bread.
Hamburger Helper needs meat.
Cake mix needs oil and egg.
Mac and cheese calls for milk, and not powdered milk, the real stuff.
“It’s wonderful to see people’s faces light up when they get a gallon of milk,” Schuele said.
What’s basic for you could be a luxury for those with food insecurities.
Catholic Charities is adding a third pantry in Northwest Omaha to its existing two in North and South Omaha. It will be called the Bedford Pantry.