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How to donate food to homeless shelters

Updated February 21, 2017

Homeless shelters often need food donations, but many people don't donate because they aren't sure what the shelter needs or what steps they have to take to donate. But it is worth the effort to donate. Many homeless people go days without eating, so the food you provide can offer much-needed nutrition. In winter, consider donating food that can be used in a hearty, warming dish like chilli.

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  1. Call a local shelter to find out what they need. Some shelters only accept sealed foods, such as canned goods and unopened boxes of cereal or pasta. Choose quality, nutritious foods, such as whole wheat pasta, which provides more fibre and protein than white pasta. Beans, canned meats and fortified cereals are also good choices.

  2. Cook the dishes you want to prepare if the shelter accepts prepared foods as donations. Start by securing your hair if necessary, thoroughly washing your hands and cleaning all the pots and utensils you will be using. Prepare the meal in a reusable foil dish and cover with foil. Tape reheating instructions to the dish so shelter staff know what to do. Include a list of the ingredients, too.

  3. Deliver the food at the shelter's convenience. If you have prepared a hot dish, transport it so it remains at a safe temperature: either hot and insulated, or cooled completely and transported in a cooler so it can be reheated at the shelter.

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Things You'll Need

  • Canned or packaged food
  • Prepared food
  • Cooler

About the Author

Karen Sheviak has more than 10 years of experience as a writer, researcher and copy editor for "Canadian Living" magazine. She has worked as a freelance editor for other magazines including "Toronto Life." Sheviak has a Bachelor of Arts in English and history from the University of Toronto and a diploma in journalism from Centennial College in Toronto.

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