This is going to be one of my favorite posts to write, because as my blog name states, I love to share! So, I absolutely love being able to use my grocery savings to help eliminate hunger. I wrote about how to do this a little bit in my post, How to Get the Best Deals at the Drugstore. Once you’ve learned how to save money by shopping the sales and using coupons, you’re going to have more than you need. So, what do you do with your surplus? I’m going to give you several things you can do, and share an example of someone who has successfully taught others how to help eliminate hunger.
Coupon Mom Started as Cut Out Hunger
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The Coupon Mom saw a need in her church bulletin one day for help stocking a local food pantry. They were having to turn people away because their shelves were bare. The Coupon Mom decided she could use the couponing methods she knew to go to the store and purchase things for the food pantry, and help families in need. She ended up getting $60 worth of food for only $15! When she delivered the food, she saw so many families there waiting for help, so she decided she could do something about it on an ongoing basis. She shops for the food pantry on a weekly basis, when she does her regular grocery shopping for her family. She decided to share the strategy with others and called it “Cut Out Hunger.” She started out teaching small groups of people and then launched a website in March 2001. In 2005, the name of the website was changed to CouponMom.com. Her main goal is still to teach people how to shop strategically, and be able to use those savings to help others. In 2009, she did a survey of her members and “found that 84 percent of respondents said they donated items they bought at bargain prices to charities, friends, or family members in need on a regular basis.” (as stated in her book, The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half).
Donation Box to Help Eliminate Hunger
The Coupon Mom has a “charity box” in her garage where she puts all of the nonperishable items she collects from her grocery shopping savings each week. She fills it with things like peanut butter, toothpaste, shampoo, pasta, cereal, and canned goods. On her Coupon Mom website where she lists the best grocery deals for each week, the word “charity” is next to the items that would make good donations.
I liked this idea so much, that I decided we needed a donation box in our garage too. We cleared space on a shelf and every time I get an item for a great price, or sometimes even for free, I put it in the donation box. Sometimes things will go on sale for a super low price, and it’s things we don’t use, but I still purchase it, and put it in the box. Just a couple of weeks ago, pasta was on sale for $0.69. They didn’t have the wheat pasta that I usually buy, but they did have regular pasta, so I went ahead and purchased it and put it in the donation box. I also sign up for a lot of free samples, and if it’s something I don’t use, or if I already have it, I put it in the box. Canned tuna goes on sale often, so I usually buy a couple for us and one for the donation box. Beans, canned vegetables and rice are also great sales items to include.
Where to Donate to Help Eliminate Hunger
My kids and I used to love going to our local food pantry when my donation box was full, and bring in several bags of items. We used to count them each time and try to beat the amount the next time. The joy on the volunteers’ faces when they would see us bringing in bag after bag of items to donate, was priceless. Sometimes they would start unpacking them and putting them on the shelves as fast as we could bring them in, so that way the other volunteer coming in to gather items for the client waiting in the other room, would have plenty to choose from. Unfortunately, sometimes those shelves were pretty bare. That just made us look for more deals next time. Unfortunately, that food pantry moved and there isn’t one near us anymore. So, we’ve had to find other places to donate.
At our previous church, there was a couple that managed a low-income apartment complex. Those families needed food, and since the food pantry wasn’t there anymore, it was harder for them to get what they needed. So, we started bringing all of our donations there. We would show up at their office with bags of food items and soon after, the families would show up at the door to get some food. Everything we brought was used up, so when we could, we would bring more. It was a really neat experience. Well, they ended up moving, so we had to find another place to donate.
Our previous church saw what we had been doing, and decided to make me head of benevolence. So, when anyone had a need, the Pastor would have them call me. I would find out what they needed and either have it ready for them when they came to my house to pick it up, or sometimes I would bring it to them, or the Pastor would. This method worked out really good because if they also needed something perishable, if I had extra meat (like from Costco), I would share that with them too. They were never greedy either; they would shop my shelves in my garage and only take what they needed, and always left some in case someone else had a need. Well, that Pastor moved on to another church, but luckily we still had other places to give.
The Boy Scouts come around once a year to our neighborhoods and leave a bag to fill and they come back the next weekend to pick it up. Their program is called, “Scouting for Food.” All I have to do is leave it at the end of our walkway, and they come and get it. This year, they didn’t come in our neighborhood for some reason, but I found out that they still collect food outside of our local Vons and Albertsons. So, next year if they don’t show up, I’ll go to them.
The Post Office has a yearly, “Stamp Out Hunger,” food drive. They put a slip of paper about it in the mailbox the week before and then come around that Saturday to collect. I tape that piece of paper to the bag of food and leave it at the base of our community mailboxes for them to pick up. They bring it to local food pantries within the county. It’s really sad, because we’re the only ones in our neighborhood that donate to this cause. I need to find a way to encourage more people to participate.
My daughter’s high school used to have a food drive every year, I think it was near Thanksgiving or Christmas. They got extra credit for bringing in a certain amount of cans, and the teachers had a friendly competition between them to see whose class could earn the most. I think there was an incentive for the kids, but I can’t remember if it was a pizza party or something.
So, as you can see, there are tons of places to donate your food to help eliminate hunger, and if one of them doesn’t work out, look for another. Of course, you can always google food pantry near you to find other places to help, or ask at a local church. Also, if you noticed, my kids were involved in all of the giving that we did. They really enjoyed helping look for food we could donate and were excited to see how much we had to give. So, this is a great thing for you to get your kids involved with too!
Have you found anywhere to give your extra food? I would love more ideas!
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