Solutions Blog

5 ways to help food shelves during COVID-19

Assorted canned soups sit on a warehouse shelf.


A lot of Minnesotans are asking how they can help members of their communities that struggle with hunger. We’ve compiled a list of ideas for how to help below. If you do plan to make a donation of food or household goods BE SURE TO CALL THE FOOD SHELF FIRST. Many food shelves are running on different schedule and have new protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Every food shelf is different, so it is best to ask your local food shelf directly. You can find a food shelf that serves your community here: http://www.hungersolutions.org/find-help

1.) Donate money.
Food shelves know what they need the most – food, paper products, cleaning supplies, pet food, diapers. Making a financial donation lets them use the money to buy the things they most need in the moment. Plus, food shelves can stretch those dollars further through their food bank than most of us can shopping at a grocery store. And a lot of food shelves have online donation options, so you don’t even have to leave the house to help.

2.) Volunteer
All food shelves depend on volunteers to make everything run smoothly, but a lot of those volunteers are older adults and retirees who are at higher risk from COVID-19. If you are healthy, not in a high-risk category and have some time to spare, a food shelf near you can probably use your help.

3.) Donate your stash
Did you and your partner or roommates panic buy toilet paper and hand sanitizer and now you are sitting on more than you can use in a month? Think about donating it to your local food shelf. They can help get the goods to folks in need who don’t have the means to shop ahead.

4.) Donate your boxes and bags
A lot of food shelves are moving to a pre-pack box model to minimize social contact. That means they need more sturdy boxes and paper bags that usual. Got a stash of medium size Amazon boxes? How about a collection of paper grocery bags? Your local food shelf can probably use them right now.

5.) Ask your neighbors to help and make one trip
If you’ve got boxes and bags or more hand sanitizer than you could ever possibly need, your neighbors might too. This is a good time to knock on their door, check in and see if they need anything, and let them know you are going to the food shelf later to donate supplies. The fewer people making trips to food shelf (or anywhere) the less our risk of spreading COVID-19.

Easy ways to help!

1 Donate
2 Sign up
3 Advocate