Non-Food Items You Can Donate to Food Banks


It is a common misconception that food pantries only work to provide food to struggling families. People might assume that as long as someone is fed, they can thrive, but this is not the case. Everyone, including those who struggle financially, should be able to take care of basic needs beyond nutrition. Though many charitable organizations are called food banks or food pantries, their need goes beyond that of food. There are many things other than food that you can donate to food banks that will help them help others.


Hygiene is important for struggling families and can impact overall health, so donations of personal care items can be very helpful. These can include toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, or other personal items.

School supplies

Every child should have access to an education, no matter their home situation. Donations of school supplies can help a child be more successful in school and give a family one less thing to worry about. A reliable, sturdy backpack can make it easier for children to carry their items to and from school. Other supplies like writing utensils, notebooks, binders, and folders can be helpful as well.


It may seem that toys aren’t a necessity, but every child deserves to have some semblance of a normal childhood. Toy donations can help with this. They don’t have to be elaborate; a simple toy truck set or coloring book can bring joy to a child whose parents may not otherwise be able to afford these items.

Infant care items

Parents struggling financially have an added burden when trying to take care of an infant. Diapers, diaper rash cream, or other items specifically for infants can alleviate the burden on families.

Winter items

The winter months can be the hardest time for families who struggle financially, especially if they live in a place that lacks proper heating. Items like blankets, hats, and gloves can help keep someone warm. Opt for the warmest versions of these, like fleece- lined blankets or wool socks.

Gift cards

Everyone deserves to have some fun, so gift cards for specific activities or entertainment could be very helpful. Movie theater gift cards can allow for a bit of escape, and restaurant gift cards can give someone an opportunity to be treated for a night.


Many food pantries are looking for book donations, as they not only offer an escape, but can help a person learn valuable lessons. Books donations for people of all ages can help alleviate this need.


If you have items to donate but aren’t sure if you should, it’s a good idea to contact your local food bank to find out what they’re looking for. It could be that they need a wide variety of items, or they may be looking for something specific. Though food items are always helpful, many overlook some other important needs of families who struggle with poverty.