Giving Food Safely

It is a blessing to donate food to those in need, but it is not a blessing to donate unsafe food.

If the blessing box is outside of a building, and outdoor temperatures are extremely cold or hot, many foods can be compromised which could reduce the quality and be unsafe. Keep these tips in mind when deciding the types and forms of food to donate.

When donating items please follow CDC handwashing guidance and disinfect the box interior and handles frequently.

Here are a few examples of items that can be donated to Blessing Boxes year round.

Some items may be compromised during winter months. Note the asterisk items.*

  • Canned soups and sauces*
  • Canned Meat (Tuna, Chicken, etc.)*
  • Peanut butter, nuts, and alternatives
  • Almond Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter, Coconut Butter, etc.
  • Beans, canned, especially garbanzo, chili, & baked beans *
  • Rice, white or brown
  • Pasta (preferably in boxes)
  • Cereals/instant oatmeal packets
  • Crackers/granola bars
  • Canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, & tomato paste*
  • Canned Fruits, Canned Vegetable 
  • TIP – canned foods with pull rings when available for easy opening or include small handheld can openers.
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, mayo)
  • Jelly, pancake syrup
  • Baking and Pancake Mixes
  • Microwave meals/to-go meals and shelf-stable meal kits
  • Individual serving size items
  • Infant formula, dry infant cereal
  • Package protein drinks
  • Dried fruit

*Not recommended during winter temperatures below freezing

Here are a few examples of other items that can be donated to Blessing Boxes as well!

  • Hand can openers
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, Combs, Brushes, Toilet Paper
  • Feminine Care Pads, Regular Tampons
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste
  • Deodorant, Razors
  • Hand Soap, Dish Soap, Bath Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Laundry Detergent
  • Gloves, Hats, Scarves
  • Baby Supplies (wipes, diapers, etc.)

Throughout the year, please be considerate of the Blessing Boxes and avoid donating the following items:

  • Open or partially used items
  • Rusty or unlabeled cans
  • Homemade or home canned foods
  • Glass because of breakage
  • Food in torn cardboard boxes
  • Food in torn plastic packaging
  • Perishable items (NO raw meats, eggs, or fresh breads)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Dented, bent, leaking, or bulging cans
  • Any packaged food past its “best by,” “use by,” or “sell by” date
  • Any packaged food with damaged tamper-resistant seals
  • Re-packaged foods
  • No fresh fruits or vegetables – these can spoil easily during extreme temperature changes, get easily damaged, or get contaminated by animals or insects. Create a plan for distribution of these nutritious foods that will be safer

Karen Blakeslee, M.S., K-State Research and Extension Associate, Rapid Response Center Coordinator, and Assistant Director of Kansas Value Added Foods Lab

Group 8
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