Season of giving: Here are the best items to donate to local food banks

Second Harvest Food Bank shares dos and don’ts for donations

‘Tis the season of giving.

As you plan your upcoming holiday meals, keep in mind those who are not as fortunate to be able to head to the grocery store to make a meal to fill their tables.

Some people must rely on food banks to fill their bellies, and the holidays make a great time to donate food for those less fortunate.

[TRENDING: Orlando police cruiser hits, seriously injures woman crossing road | Coldest air of season hits Central Florida | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

It’s not as simple as cleaning out your pantry and donating the stuff you no longer need. There are specific products that work better for food banks and some you should avoid passing along.

Mindy Ortiz, director of volunteer services at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, shared information about the best and worst items to donate to help those wanting to lend a helping hand.

During this time of year, protein items are in high demand, according to Ortiz. If you could grab some peanut butter, canned tuna or canned chicken, you’d be donating very popular items.

If you want to donate something that people really wish the pantries had during the holidays, you could turn to cranberry sauce, stuffing and canned pumpkin, Ortiz shared.

Some great items to donate, which you might not always think about, are meals in a can, like soups, beef stew and black beans. Ortiz said they make really great donations.

And when it comes to things you shouldn’t donate, Ortiz said to stay away from items that are open, items missing nutritional information and perishable items.

According to Feeding America, you also shouldn’t donate homemade baked goods or leftovers to ensure the people being served are safe since the items aren’t sealed.

While you’re doing your holiday grocery shopping in the coming weeks, think about grabbing a few extra items for those that could really use them right now and drop them off at your nearest food bank.