Cash vs. Cans—The Donation Dilemma

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Charity Spotlight: This blog post was provided by Emily Wiles from The Mississauga Food Bank as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

Have you ever wondered to yourself or asked someone aloud:

“What makes a bigger difference for my hungry neighbours? Donating food or giving money to a food bank?”

At The Mississauga Food Bank (TMFB) we love getting this question. It means our supporters are thinking about how they can help as many hungry neighbours as possible. It’s easy to enthusiastically respond saying, “Whether you are donating food or funds—your gifts will help provide hungry neighbours with the meals they need. We are grateful for your support.”

However, this question also gives us the opportunity to talk about how gifts of cash exponentially help more by contributing to higher purchasing power, increased nutritional quality, and investments in innovative solutions to combat food insecurity.

How Your Dollars Make a Difference

Local food banks are typically not government funded. That means they rely on donations to distribute healthy and nutritious meals to people who need it the most. When you donate cash instead of cans, you are helping to increase the positive effect of your donations in three ways:

1. Your Dollars Contribute to Higher Purchasing Power

When you donate cash, your local food bank is able to purchase food in large quantities at wholesale rates less than what you pay in the grocery store . We spend time researching and negotiating with distributors to find the best deal on canned fruits, veggies, and protein to ensure we get the best value per dollar spent.

Think about how much it costs you to purchase enough food for a meal in a grocery store. Or even how much it costs to purchase five cans of beans to donate to your local food bank. With our purchasing power combined with industry food donations, every $1 you donate provides food for two whole meals to feed a hungry neighbour in need.

2. Providing Nutritionally Balanced Food

The health and wellbeing of clients is the food bank’s first priority, and our most needed items are often the fresh foods required to achieve a balanced diet. However, it’s often a challenge to donate fresh food like eggs, milk, yogurt, or fresh fruit and vegetables because of expiration dates! Your cash donation allows us to purchase fresh food so clients can exercise choice in their nutrition and eat sufficient portions of nutritionally balanced foods.

At The Mississauga Food Bank, our objective is to source adequate food from the four categories of Canada’s Food Guide that provides a balanced diet to hungry neighbours. We rely on cash donations to purchase food in the categories we’re running low on which are often fresh foods.

3. Investing in Food Rescue and Innovative Food Sources

Your gift of cash ensures ongoing impact by helping your local food bank invest in food rescue efforts. Grocery stores and restaurants are incredible partners, often donating large quantities of items that they can’t sell. However, these food donations need to be picked up and distributed quickly. Your cash donations help fill food rescue trucks with gas, maintain equipment, and recruit volunteer drivers to aid in food rescue efforts which will decrease food waste and deliver more food to the neighbours who need it the most.

Many food banks are also investing in farms, growing towers, or community gardens to help source food through sustainable, environmentally friendly solutions. Only with the support of financial donations will food banks across the country be able to continue this innovation.

Fighting Hunger in Our Communities

At The Mississauga Food Bank, our vision is to create a Mississauga where no one goes hungry. We are the central food bank in Mississauga and distribute food for over 2.6 million meals each year through our network of 50 member agencies, including neighbourhood food banks, hot meal programs, and school breakfast clubs.

Our mission is to relieve hunger in Mississauga by providing and promoting access to healthy food for people in need. We believe it takes all of us to fight hunger in our communities and we invite you to fight hunger in your community by supporting your local food bank!

To learn more about The Mississauga Food Bank, or to make a donation, please visit their Charity Profile Page.

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