UW Combined Fund Drive

February 2, 2022

Support Local Food Pantries with Non-food Items

Of the many ongoing consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most urgent is that more than 50 million people are experiencing food insecurity in the U.S., including millions of children and vulnerable seniors.

In Washington state, those who cannot consistently put food on their tables has more than doubled in the past two years.

Many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and need to rely on their local food banks/pantries and other hunger relief organizations for support.

Local organizations like Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline, University District Food Bank, the UW Food Pantry and many partner programs are working tirelessly to meet the rapidly growing demand for emergency food in communities across the state.

Consider donating non-food items

If you have donated to a food bank lately, your donation likely consisted of shelf-stable staples like pasta, canned fruit and soup, and peanut butter. All good.

However, most food pantries also accept personal care, baby, and household items since many families struggle to afford these items and they are not covered by other food assistance programs.

Next time you are putting together a donation box for your local pantry, or participating in a drive, consider these non-food items in high demand:

Laundry supplies: All families need clean clothes for school and work. For adults facing poverty, not being able to have properly washed clothes can damage opportunities for employment. For kids, wearing unwashed clothes could make it more difficult for kids to engage because of their concern that their clothes are dirty. Studies show that access to clean clothes can improve a child’s performance and attendance.

Feminine hygiene products: “Period poverty” refers to the inability to afford products (tampons, pads, liners) to manage menstrual bleeding, as well as inadequate access to toilets, hand washing receptacles and hygienic waste management. In addition to being taxed as a luxury in some states, sanitary products are not covered by SNAP benefits and many low-income menstruators are forced to choose between these or other basic needs. The inability to bleed with dignity results in missed school, work and social programming.

Personal care products: Shampoo, body wash, lotion, toothbrushes and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, lip balm, tissue, handwarmers, shave cream, deodorant, condoms and toilet paper or wet wipes are all products that keep people clean and healthy but can be expensive. Barriers to practicing personal hygiene and self-care are inexorably linked to people’s dignity, and are also a matter of public health, particularly in the case of homeless individuals – for homeless women, even more still.

Baby care: Diaper need is the lack of sufficient diapers (and wipes) to keep an infant or toddler clean, dry and healthy. Without diapers, children cannot attend childcare or early learning programs – and without childcare, parents (primarily mothers) cannot go to work or school. Approximately 1 in 3 American families report having diaper need.

Infant formula and baby food are expensive for those in need and are in great demand at food banks.

Pet supplies: Pet food helps food bank families keep their pets nourished, too. Many food banks also distribute donated pet food to area shelters to feed homeless dogs and cats. The majority of homeless shelters don’t allow pets, leaving people to choose between shelter or giving up their best friend. Feeding Pets of the Homeless provides relief to homeless people and their pets in the form of food, resources, emergency veterinary care and support.

Reusable shopping bags and paper or plastic bags are useful for clients and save the food bank money.

Portable, non-electric can openers that can be used to open donated canned goods.

If you do contribute shelf-stable food items, know that there is always a need for ethnic foods and foods for those with restricted diets (i.e., gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, egg-free).

Contribute Financially

Want to put your dollars directly toward the greater good for a bigger impact? Consider making a one-time gift or setting up payroll deduction through the UWCFD for one of our member nonprofits working toward food security for all:

University District Food Bank (charity code 0316382): For nearly 30 years, we have provided nutritious food to low-income seniors, adults and children living in Northeast Seattle neighborhoods. Each week, about 1,100 different households rely on us to help meet their nutrition needs.

Food Lifeline (charity code 0463199): Feeding people facing hunger today and working to end hunger for tomorrow. Each dollar donated provides enough food for three meals. We help feed hungry people in communities throughout Western Washington.

Northwest Harvest (charity code 0316358): The mission of Northwest Harvest is to provide nutritious food to hungry people statewide in a manner that respects their dignity, while fighting to eliminate hunger.

Diapers for Needy Infants and Toddlers (National Diaper Bank Network) (charity code 1481831): Helping meet a basic need for all babies-clean, dry diapers. We address diaper need, a hidden consequence of poverty that impacts impoverished American families.

No Kid Hungry: No child should go hungry in a nation as wealthy as ours. But millions of kids are living with hunger right now because of the pandemic. With No Kid Hungry, you can help change that for good.

Seattle Humane (charity code 0314982): Founded in 1897, Seattle Humane Society is a private, nonprofit animal shelter. We serve people and animals with a variety of programs, including adoptions, dog training classes, a pet food bank for low-income seniors, and humane education for kids.

The UW Food Pantry (charity code 1482050): provides food to students, staff, and faculty who are having a hard time putting food on their plate.

Pike Place Market Foundation (charity code 0316443): Raises funds to purchase food, childcare, medical care and housing services for the low-income and elderly people of the Pike Place Market neighborhood.

Learn more about the UW Food Pantry