November 15, 2013

A Thanksgiving Shopping List for People in Need.

This time of year, food banks across the country are gearing up to feed thousands upon thousands of hungry Americans on Thanksgiving Day and they desperately need your help.

Many people don’t have the time during the busy holiday season to actually volunteer at a food pantry. We may not all be able to cook or serve hot meals at a shelter, and thank you dearly if you are, but we can all help out simply by grocery shopping. Imagine how many families could be blessed with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner if everyone chipped in and bought a few items each time they went food shopping.

Most food banks organize non-perishable food drives during the holidays. They then put together bags or boxes containing all the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings, which are delivered to or picked up by families in need to take home and prepare.

The next time you go grocery shopping, take along this simple list and pick up as many of the following items as you can. Then, take them to your nearest food bank. Don’t know where to go? Churches and schools almost always have food drives this month.

Many years ago, I discovered my local food bank by googling “food bank for the needy” plus the name of my city.

Thanksgiving Food Drive Shopping List

Note: we want to balance being able to buy as much as possible, while buying quality, healthful food!

Relephant & helpful links:

Eating Organic is not just for the Rich.

Eight Ways to Make Healthy Eating Affordable.


Boxed Stuffing Mix (like Stovetop)

Instant Mashed Potatoes in boxes or packets

Jars of Turkey Gravy or Dried Gravy Mix Packets

Canned Yams

Cranberry Sauce

Canned Veggies (green beans, corn, peas)

Cornbread Mix

Canned Pumpkin or Fruit Pie Filling

Pie Crust Mix

Salt and Pepper



Boxed Macaroni and Cheese

Fixings for Green Bean Casserole—Cream of Mushroom Soup, Canned Green Beans, French Fried Onions

Cake Mix or Brownie Mix and Can of Frosting

Vegetable Oil

Powdered Drink Mixes

Can of Instant Coffee (Some families may not be able to afford coffee makers)

Box of Tea Bags

Can of Dried Coffee Creamer

Bag of Sugar


Bags of Dried Beans

Jar of Peanut Butter

Jar of Jam

Jar of Mayo

Boxes of Jell-O or Pudding Mix

Box of Cereal

Box of Crackers with Can of Spray Cheese

Box of Graham Crackers

Foil Baking Pans

Paper Plates


Plastic Utensils

Paper Towels

Money Saving Tips

When shopping for charity, you want to be able to give as much as you can, so you need to get your money’s worth. Here’s what works for me:

Cut coupons.

Take advantage of grocery store “Buy One Get One Free” sales.

Buy only store-brand items.

Shop at the dollar stores. You wouldn’t believe the deal on non-perishable foods and household supplies and families in need aren’t going to be picky about brand names or fancy stores.

Find inexpensive grocery stores that will honor sales, specials and coupons from other stores and load up. Many stores will even take double coupons. In my town, the store that usually has the lowest prices also accepts competitor’s deals and coupons, so I save a ton by shopping there armed with the weekly flyers from other grocery stores.

Look for discontinued products and dented cans. Usually stores have a designated area for these items and sell them at deep discounts.

Speak with the store manager and explain what you’re doing. You may just receive some generous donations!

Other Tips

If you have children, bring them shopping with you and teach them about helping the less fortunate members of their communities. Print out the shopping list and let them make a scavenger hunt out of finding the items.

Pin this article on Pinterest so you don’t lose the list.

Recruit other friends and family members to shop for the needy too. Spread the love.

Organize your own mini food drive at school, work, family get-togethers, parties, etc. Tell everyone to bring something and make it fun.

If at all possible, make the time to volunteer. Try to find ways to connect with the people who are receiving the donations. Talk to them. Get to know them and their stories. Interacting with individuals in need and experiencing their humanity will give a face to the problems of poverty and hunger facing our nation. Once you experience this, you will only want to help more.

On the other side, when people in need meet and get to know those who donate and volunteer, they find a sense of hope and belonging in a world that may often seem harsh and unforgiving. Hope changes lives.

Most importantly, remember that people are hungry all year round, not just during the holidays. Donate whenever you can throughout the year and remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or get every single item on the list. Do what you can. Every little bit counts.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Wikimedia Commons.}

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