One of our followers asked for some ideas about food and drink items she could’ve purchased for a gentleman experiencing homelessness. She was heading into a grocery store and wasn’t sure what to buy for him, aside from water, bread, and a jar of peanut butter. I had a few suggestions, and then I realized there are probably a lot of other people who struggle with the same thing.
Some people will give cash or gift cards, but many people prefer not to do that. In lieu of cash, many people prefer to give food. However, not everyone is sure of what to give. My philosophy is to not overthink things, so I started doing a mental rundown of some things, and received suggestions from many people who keep several of these items handy, and I thought I’d share them with you.
One of the most critical suggestions we received came from Owen Camuso, Program Manager for RHD FaSST/Connections, “First and foremost I would suggest a ‘where to turn guide’, and depending on the resources in the particular city, it’ll look different. Here in Philly it would be meal services, shelter services, and emergency services. We also have a homeless outreach response team so we post that number everywhere.” You’ll need to look into what services are available in your area.
Along with resources for making sure someone has information of where to turn if they want or need to come off the streets, the most obvious item to include is bottled water. In addition to water, any of these items (submitted by various SC followers) could be included.
Individual Tuna packets
Wheat bread – It’ll keep for several days, and it usually lasts a bit longer than white bread.
Packets of peanut butter– great for sandwiches and even crackers.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Individual fruit cups, in their own juice (not in heavy syrups).
Small packages of cookies and crackers
Drink mixes (the little pouches that you tear open and pour into a bottle of water).
Bars – Granola bars, cereal bars, etc… These are great and have a long shelf life.
The list goes on and on when it comes to non-perishable foods, but toiletries are welcome, too. Here are just a few ideas submitted by various followers and organizations.
Baby wipes – these come in handy if they’re not able to get to a shower.
A roll of toilet paper – yes, really. They can’t always find access to a toilet (thanks for that suggestion, Mel).
A bar of soap
Scarves, gloves, socks, and hats are good for winter, and if it’s within your budget, a sleeping bag would be good.
Thank you to everyone who sent in suggestions. If you have more, please let us know!