How and Where to Donate Food and Other Supplies

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If you’ve been using coupons and shopping the sales for at least a few months, you’ve probably realized that you can quickly acquire a very large stockpile. But once you’ve built up your stockpile, what do you do with all of the food and household supplies that you don’t have room for?

Every few months, I go through my household supplies, medicines, beauty products, and packaged food to see if there’s anything I can donate. I think about what my little family of three can use in the next six months or so and compile my donation accordingly.

I know where to donate food, because just about every grocery store I’ve seen has a food shelf donation bin in it near the exit. But did you know that they will also take medicine, toiletries, and other household supplies? As long as the products are unopened, you’re good to go.

If you’re looking for some other places that will take your donations, here are a few options.

Family and friends. When my family and friends come over to my house, I often ask them if there’s anything they need. A few months ago, some friends of mine came over for dinner. When they mentioned they liked Colgate toothpaste, I went into my stockpile and gave them five unopened tubes of toothpaste. They were delighted!

Schools. As a former teacher, I can tell you that teachers are always in need of school supplies. They need things like facial tissue, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, pens, pencils, tape, and other office supplies. If you stock up during the back-to-school sales and donate what your family won’t use, you can make some teachers very happy.

Churches. Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park is one of many churches that will take your canned goods, boxed foods, and personal hygiene items.

Non-profit organizations. Second Harvest Heartland has locations in Maplewood and Minneapolis where you can drop off your non-perishable donations.

Food banks. Emergency Food Shelf is a large food bank located in New Hope that accepts food and hygiene/household donations. C.R.O.S.S. is located in Rogers and accepts non-perishable food items as well as personal and health-care items.

For readers who are not located in the Twin Cities area, you can probably find many churches, non-profit organizations, and food banks in your area that will gladly take your donations. Do a little digging, and you’ll be surprised at how many you can find.

Think about how much money you’re saving through couponing and deal shopping. Now think about all of the people who could use many of the products that you’re getting for free or close-to-free. How much can you donate to help others?

Your turn: Where do you donate food and household supplies?


    • Cindy says

      Jody, we got something like this years ago when we visited second harvest … a bakery box with a cake mix, tub of frosting, a signed card, and some cake sprinkles. I thought it was very sweet.

  1. Christina says

    The foodshelf near my house will not take medicine for liability reasons. Does anyone know of other places that this can be donated?

    • Penny says


      My local food shelf transfers the medicines I donate to Bill’s Pantry – they focus on supporting aids patients. They accepted Diabetic testing kits, theraflu, triaminic, neosporin, bandaids.etc.

  2. Cindy says

    I tend to favor the drop boxes … Econofoods in River Falls has boxes at the entrance for food and childrens books

  3. Sara says

    Every March, I coordinate a food drive at my office because it is Minnesota FoodShare Month and local food shelves can receive matching grants based upon how much food or money is donated. It is a great time to get a jump start into spring cleaning and provide much needed donations to food shelves.

    A couple of donation sites in Dakota County include Neighbor's Inc. in South St. Paul ( and the Community Action Council (

    The City of Eagan is sponsoring a food drive all year long coinciding with their 150th birthday celebration. The goal is to raise 150,000 pounds of food to donate to local food shelves (

    The Minnesota FoodShare site has a list of local food shelves too (

  4. Penny says


    My local food shelf transfers the medicines I donate to Bill's Pantry – they focus on supporting aids patients. They accepted Diabetic testing kits, theraflu, triaminic, neosporin, bandaids.etc.

  5. says

    The Salvation Army is an easy one–and usually there is a branch in just about every major (or even minor!) city. Just give them a call. They are thrilled when I drop off bags and bags of cereal and pasta (for example–those are 2 items I can get for very cheap or free and have plenty of).

    Another idea is to call your local homeless shelter. One year my then 3 y.o. daughter said she wanted to share her birthday cupcakes with some of the poor. I politely shooed away her idea, saying that probably wouldn't be possible. But God wouldn't let me let it go–he kept it on my heart! So I pulled out the phone book and gave them a call. I told them we had some homemade cupcakes from my daughter's birthday that she wanted to share and we had an extra dozen–could we drop them off to brighten someone's day? She said we sure could, so she and I drove right down and delivered some cupcakes. It was a humbling learning experience for me. It doesn't hurt to ask!

    We also collect things throughout the year like school supplies, wipes, socks, small toys, soap bars, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other things to put in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I have some bags set aside in a closet that I fill with shoebox items. Once it's time to assemble the boxes, you'll be surprised at how much stuff you already have to fill them!

  6. Jennifer says

    I have donated OTC meds to People Serving People in Minneapolis and the Home Free battered women's shelter in Plymouth. I struggled finding places to donate them too!

  7. Nicole Good says

    I've been putting bags together for C.R.O.S.S. in Rogers They are local for me; and it's great to have my kids help out by bringing the bags in.

  8. Anne says

    If anyone knows of any place that will take non-perishables for Haiti in North Central MN (Brainerd) could you please let me know. ;)'

  9. Shalome Westberg says

    In the south Metro there are 2 places I have donated personal care items to. One is The Lewis House Battered Woman's Shelter in Eagan and the other is Dakota Woodlands which is a short term housing facility for homeless woman and children. The Lewis House you must call to arrange drop-off because it is a locked facility for safety reason.

  10. Erin Rose says

    I've donated to the Alexandria house in Blaine which is a womens shelter as well. They always could use pantry/food items. Other items like clothes, they sometimes need and sometimes don't. You have to call and set up a time as well.

  11. Erin Rose says

    Oh, otherwise the majority of our stuff goes to my bro and sis inlaw who have it tough with small to no income and they have two kids. We supply all their personal supplies and random fun stuff. They get so excited about that stuff.

    At my nephews 7th birthday, we brought 2 bags of groceries along with his gift. He was so excited that he set the bags next to his presents. One day he asked me why we do this for them. My only response was "because we love you." It is awesome to see the faces of the ones you help!

  12. says

    Crisis nurseries all over are in dire need of baby supplies, especially formula and diapers! I know that we usually can't get these 100% for free, but if you have any left over after your baby grows and changes sizes, please search for a crisis nursery in your area and find out what they'll take.

    I know the Bethany Crisis Nursery in Duluth is accepting nearly everything and they're experiencing a formula shortage. Any contributions are very much appreciated by the staff!

  13. Robin says

    I recently heard that some fire stations take gently used stuffed animals to give to kids when they are on calls.

  14. says

    Great suggestions here and it's wonderful that teachers were included! Another way that community members can support their teachers is to adopt a classroom at a local school. Through, donors can make a tax-deductible donation and 100% of it goes to the teacher so that they can purchase supplies that will improve the learning environment for students.

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