“Give Cash, Not Food”

Donating cans to pantries is “a terrible solution”


In which “Adam Ruins Everything” ruins food banks.

The show points out that:

  1. Donors often use food drives as an opportunity to grab forgotten cans out of back corners, which means that our charity is basically ridding ourselves of the dinged up, the expired, and the weird stuff we don’t want anyway.
  2. Pantry staffers have to spend hours sorting through what’s given and end up throwing out half. The rest they still have to box up and transport.
  3. Also, canned food is high in sodium and generally unhealthy.

“Canned food drives don’t suck,” says a diplomatic administrator, “but they’re not the most efficient way to give. … The best way to help a food bank is to donate money.” That money goes way farther in the hands of a pantry that can buy wholesome food wholesale and make deals with local farmers for well-priced perishables.

If you miss having the motivation to empty your shelves of all the cans of cornichons and lentil soup you’ve accumulated over the years, go ahead and donate. Odds are the food bank won’t say no. But realize you’re doing it as much for yourself as for others, and maybe accompany your gift with a larger check than you might have otherwise to offset costs.

And if you don’t want to, or can’t, give cash? Give time. Volunteering is probably worth way more to a food bank than cling peaches from 2006.

Previously in news related to “Adam Ruins Everything”: Nicole Dieker took issue with the show’s conclusions about sharing salary information.