FOOD PANTRY donation issue: people keep giving us expired foods. Do you think it's on purpose?
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 11/7/2011 by SharlaG in NSBR Board
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SharlaG
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:42:25 PM
Do you think they think poor people would rather have expired canned goods than nothing?

Our company is doing a food drive, and we'll match what our customers give our service technicians.

We already -after JUST a week- have a huge storage tub full of items (mostly canned) past their expiration date.

I *HOPE* people are thinking of giving away stuff they don't use, as opposed to actually offering a donation of expired foods.

You can also chime in on what your stance is on heeding expiration dates. We stand around, while sorting the past date items, and ponder if the stuff would still be ok to eat.







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JustCallMeMommy
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:44:26 PM

I don't pay a bit of attention to expiration dates on canned foods unless the can starts to look bad. If I were grabbing from my cabinet, I wouldn't notice if something was expired.


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sheepea
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:48:04 PM
When we were little and donating cans of food, I would actually get upset if my parents tried to give anything away other than canned creamed corn. I wanted to keep the good stuff for us, you know, like canned peas.

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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:48:42 PM
our food bank accepts & delivers to the needy expired canned & boxed food so I wouldn't throw it away unless they state they won't take it.

SharlaG
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:52:11 PM
The one we plan to donate to has 'no expired items' on their website. They're the main food bank in our town, and distribute to the smaller kitchens.







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MergeLeft
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:53:18 PM
I would wonder how expired is it? Did it expire a few months ago? No big deal. I'd eat it myself (where canned goods are concerned). And I think it likely that they didn't know it was expired or didn't consider it "bad."

Or is it a can of green beans from 1989 like we found in my MIL's pantry? Uh no, chuck that sucker. And then they were definitely trying to pass it off on you.

mdoc
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:56:01 PM
I'm guessing they're giving you the things they're least likely to eat themselves. If it's not something they enjoy, it's probably been sitting in the pantry for awhile, and therefore more likely to be expired than something they like that turns over regularly. I can't imagine people search through their pantries for expired canned goods. That said, I've eaten canned veggies past their expired dates (in each case I saw the date on the can after I ate it). I don't generally check the dates, though.

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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:58:16 PM
I've known too many people who would give expired things to charity on purpose. They want the "bragging rights" of giving something but don't want to make any kind of sacrifice.

busypea
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Posted: 11/7/2011 4:59:45 PM
I'm sure there are some people who do it on purpose, but I would bet that it's mostly people who go through their cupboards and pick out the stuff that they think they aren't going to eat - and sometimes that's stuff that's been there for quite a while and is expired.

lucyg819
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:01:35 PM
Our food pantry won't take expired foods either, which I think is ridiculous, because the expiration dates are meaningless. I routinely use "expired" cans/boxes.

But I don't try to donate them to the food pantry. If I can't use them, I put them on freecycle and post the expiration dates. They always get snapped up quickly anyway.


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MorticiaA
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:02:14 PM
People who donate expired foods

1. For some STUPID reason, they feel those who cannot afford to buy their own food should be happy to receive any type of free food.
2. They don't personally worry about expired foods, they may use expired food for themselves. My MIL won't throw away spices that are over twenty years old. She NEVER looks at the dates.
3. They feel that food is actually okay a few months after the expiration date.

If it isn't fit for my family to eat, it isn't fit for anyone to eat. I throw away food that is more than five/six months past their expiration date (it really all depends on the type of food). I do not donate expired food.

eebud
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:02:21 PM

I'm guessing they're giving you the things they're least likely to eat themselves. If it's not something they enjoy, it's probably been sitting in the pantry for awhile, and therefore more likely to be expired than something they like that turns over regularly. I can't imagine people search through their pantries for expired canned goods. That said, I've eaten canned veggies past their expired dates (in each case I saw the date on the can after I ate it). I don't generally check the dates, though.

That^^^

I pay very little attention to expiration dates on cans. If a can is starting to bulge or something like that, I toss it. I am also good about putting the new food to the back so that I use the oldest food first to try to cut down on having food expire but if I were pulling items to donate, it would probably be the items I am least likely to eat.





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raindancer
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:08:22 PM

1. For some STUPID reason, they feel those who cannot afford to buy their own food should be happy to receive any type of free food.


I can tell you that when we were struggling financially the first year we were married, we were absolutely happy to receive any type of free food. Because it was free. You cannot believe how many grapefruit my dh and I ate. Lots of trees around here, and people would give them to us at work. Was it my favorite? Nope. I don't really like any citrus. Did I feel thankful for them in the morning when we ate them for breakfast...again? Yup.


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liasmommy2000
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:08:48 PM
I always check mine before donating. Sometimes I could have sworn I just bought something a few months ago and see it expired a year ago. So I definitely check. I don't want anyone to get food poisoning!


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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:09:42 PM
I've been working at a local food bank and they have a list of how long over the expiration date the food they give out can be. For example not overdue at all on any baby food but peanut butter can be up to a year over.

I'm sure there are some people who do it on purpose, but I would bet that it's mostly people who go through their cupboards and pick out the stuff that they think they aren't going to eat - and sometimes that's stuff that's been there for quite a while and is expired.


^^^That would be the most likely reason I think.



Peabay
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:10:27 PM
Yep - I do think some do it on purpose. They think: "eh, I'm not going to eat this, but beggars can't be choosers."

Others just are oblivious.

Our food pantry asks, politely, that none of the food be expired or dented/bulging cans. I guess they had an issue with that too.



Skybar
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:10:30 PM

I pay very little attention to expiration dates on cans.

same here. I've started paying more attention to that recently tho.

i think most don't do it deliberately. some will, but most just go thru and give what they are less likely to use up and that is stuff they don't like or use as much.

I used to just pick up a few things while shopping - i usually buy on a sale anyway.





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Monklady123
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:14:31 PM
We always have this problem at food drives that I've participated in -- mostly schools and church. I think that most people donate stuff they don't really want to eat -- i.e., they're cleaning out their cupboards. Yes, I'm cynical.

There's one woman at my church who always takes her kids with her to the grocery store to go shopping specifically for our food drive. The kids have instructions to choose only things that they like to eat. Her caveat is that it has to be healthy things, but the kids are also allowed to choose a desserty thing, one each. So the kids pick out peanut butter, and pasta, and spaghetti sauce, chili, soup, cereal, things that they love. I think this teaches a nice lesson to the kids. And our food drive benefits by getting brand new stuff, not someone's "clean out the cupboard" things.



gmcwife1
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Posted: 11/7/2011 5:57:24 PM

I'm sure there are some people who do it on purpose, but I would bet that it's mostly people who go through their cupboards and pick out the stuff that they think they aren't going to eat - and sometimes that's stuff that's been there for quite a while and is expired.


I think this too. I would be the one that would donate that flavor of something that dh bought that I don't like because I don't like bold Manwich, I like regular, or spiral Mac & Cheese because I like original. I wouldn't be donating it because I thought it was bad, expired or anything like that, but because I would think someone else might like it.

One time my sister put together a food gift basket for our little brother. She was really poor at the time and most of the food she put in it was expired. She didn't pick expired food on purpose, I'm pretty sure she just shopped where she normally shopped (at the Grocery Outlet) and didn't notice the dates.


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Posted: 11/7/2011 6:05:51 PM
I always find that people have a bit of greed issue here... when we do them for a group or two I am in, people appear to clean their current shelves and pass that food on. Hardly ever do you get a new bag of food - it's always some really odd mish mash of crap outdated I grow tired of coordinating the drives for that reason.



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Posted: 11/7/2011 6:11:10 PM

There's one woman at my church who always takes her kids with her to the grocery store to go shopping specifically for our food drive. The kids have instructions to choose only things that they like to eat. Her caveat is that it has to be healthy things, but the kids are also allowed to choose a desserty thing, one each. So the kids pick out peanut butter, and pasta, and spaghetti sauce, chili, soup, cereal, things that they love. I think this teaches a nice lesson to the kids. And our food drive benefits by getting brand new stuff, not someone's "clean out the cupboard" things.


This is pretty much our approach. We let the kids look through the sales flyers and coupons and get the most bang for their buck. We also typically call ahead to the food bank we support to ask what their biggest needs are and try to meet those as well. Last time they asked for feminine products, toothbrushes and paste, and toilet paper. Jelly and peanut butter are always on their list too!


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Posted: 11/7/2011 6:13:08 PM
Two years ago, DD's Daisy troop did a food drive at school, and we went on a tour of our food bank here after we delivered the food. (They were awesome -- they had all the girls stand on the huge industrial scale where they weigh the incoming food, so they figured out that X pounds of Daisies donated X pounds of food.)

Anyway, they showed us how the food is sorted and picked, and they said they do not accept expired goods in part because they worry about liability issues.

It depends on the type of food, but I don't worry TOO much about the dates on canned goods. I won't eat something that's a year too old (even canned goods) but a few months? It might suffer a drop in quality (but I doubt it), but I'm probably not going to notice that anyway.

Like a previous poster, I've posted expired stuff on Freecycle. I buy too much, and if someone buys the wrong product (such as the Great Split Pea Soup Experiment of '10 -- that was GROSS), then we're kind of stuck with it, unless we give it away somehow. (DD LOVES peas, and LOVES soup. I thought the split pea soup would be a win. Wrong.)

Our food bank is HUGE (it serves areas for miles around), and it's quite understandable that they need to worry about liability. It stinks, but it's true.


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Posted: 11/7/2011 6:19:55 PM
My mom & I were just talking about this because the Feed a Friend canister at the local grocery store had a sign asking people not to donate expired goods. Mom & I were baffled at first, but then it dawned on me that I would be willing to guess that people open their pantry, and start by grabbing items that no one seems to want, kwim?


Like you bought 3 jars of Ragu on sale, and tried one jar and everyone hated it.


Or your DS swears that he loves tuna and begs you to buy some, only to never, ever eat any of it.


So you just grab the sauce and tuna thinking "Oh good, someone finally gets to use these!", and it never dawns on youyou to check the dates.



I think people figure the pantry items are good nearly forever and/or they don't realize just how long ago it was that junior was on his tuna kick.


Long story short, it's a great reminder to check dates on food before donating.



mishkismom
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Posted: 11/7/2011 6:43:26 PM
a few years ago I was in a situation where I asked for a Christmas goodie bag from the local Community Charity. The bag is stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce, one other vegetable a desert (like boxed cake or Ding Dongs <~~ we got Ding Dongs.. lol I was grateful as I was PMSing and stressed from being so poor! ) and a $10 gift card for a Turkey tot he local grocery store. The only items that were NOT expired were the ding dongs and the gift card.

I was grateful the food was there but I do admit to feeling a bit sorry for myself that I had to feed my family expired food and that someone would think it was okay to give "less than". We did eat it as the dates were within a few months of the date but it still stung. The next Easter we were much much better off and I made sure to donate brand new cans etc for every holiday then on.

I felt bad all around. 1. I needed to accept the charity. 2. I had to feed my family expired food and 3. I felt the worst because I felt badly toward the people that gave to the charity for a few minutes. - I do think there was a possibility that the dates were within 5 months of the holiday so maybe they thought it wouldn't be so bad? or maybe they didn't realize the items were expired? I don't know. I just know that I do my best to support the charity now.. I know that wasn't what you asked but I thought I would give you the charity needers point of view..


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Posted: 11/7/2011 7:18:42 PM

I *HOPE* people are thinking of giving away stuff they don't use, as opposed to actually offering a donation of expired foods.

I had no idea that people actually donated food out of their own pantry. We just had a food drive at the HS and I gave DS 100 and had him go to Aldi and stock up on canned foods and take them. The idea of clearing out a section of our pantry and then having to shop and restock never even crossed my mind.



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Posted: 11/7/2011 7:25:51 PM
I do not think it is on purpose. Our local Boy Scouts collect for our food bank and I didn't realize some of my donated canned food had expired until a month after I donated it. I felt horrible. Now I always check the dates before I donate it. I felt so awful.

Constance
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Posted: 11/7/2011 7:55:21 PM
Sharla, aren't you in Douglas County? The big food bank that includes your county does accept expired canned goods. They can't have big dents, any damage around the seal, rust, or anything "popped" out. The food is still good (unless it is truly ancient). It's really a shame to throw it away.

As to why people do it -- they are cleaning out their pantries and pull out the stuff from the back that they won't ever eat, so it is expired. You should see the amount of jarred baby food we get (all of which we do have to throw away, unfortunately, expired or not).

The expiration date is critical on egg-based items like mayo, but you aren't going to find that in canned goods.

Nantini
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Posted: 11/7/2011 7:57:09 PM
Mishkismom, thanks for sharing your story. I'm glad you were able to receive help when you needed it the most. But the thing that touched me most is the fact you felt bad for having to feed your family expired food. I guess I never looked at it from the other side of the fence.

I'm going to make a point to only buy news things to donate from now on and only include things I'd like to eat. ( sorry, but we'll be keeping the spinach from now on)



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Posted: 11/7/2011 8:39:07 PM

I felt bad all around. 1. I needed to accept the charity. 2. I had to feed my family expired food and 3. I felt the worst because I felt badly toward the people that gave to the charity for a few minutes. - I do think there was a possibility that the dates were within 5 months of the holiday so maybe they thought it wouldn't be so bad? or maybe they didn't realize the items were expired? I don't know.


I always worry about something like this when I pull something from the pantry. Although I do forget to check the expiration dates (note to self!!), I make sure not to give the stuff that someone thinks that I just "didn't want" and am careful to give things that I'd really eat and not something that I bought on a whim and let sit for a while. Rarely do I go shopping especially for a canned food drive. If I have to take it from my pantry and replace it later, I'll do it. This isn't because I don't care, but rather because I usually know about the drives on relatively short notice (I don't grocery shop every week).

THAT SAID....

I'm about to go shopping for DD's school food drive PARTIALLY b/c of this thread (paying attention to the dates on stuff!) and partially b/c I haven't been to the grocery as much since I'm working f/t so our own pantry is 'slimmer' than usual.

It makes me very sad to think that someone would INTENTIONALLY give expired food, and even sadder to think that a mom would have to serve it to her children wondering if it could make them sick.



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mom2ja2
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Posted: 11/7/2011 8:42:10 PM
My dd volunteered at our food pantry tonight...she was given the job of checking expiration labels...the oldest can was from 2000. Those are some pretty old green beans!



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Posted: 11/7/2011 8:49:00 PM
I volunteered at a large food bank here in Houston a couple of years ago. Our group was sorting donations that day. Their guidelines were food in cans was good for up to 1 year past expiration. Food in glass jars/bottles was only good for 6 months past expiration.

As long as the cans are not dented or leaking, or the seal isn't broken on the jars/bottles, then the food should be good within those guidelines.


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CreativeEngineer
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Posted: 11/7/2011 8:51:32 PM
This is why I tend to give cash. It's easier for me and the food bank can focus on getting what they need most.

Our church also buys so much that they get great prices on things. They can get more bang for my buck than I can and I don't have to lug cans to Sunday service.





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Posted: 11/7/2011 8:57:09 PM
That's just pathetic.






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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:01:19 PM

I had no idea that people actually donated food out of their own pantry. We just had a food drive at the HS and I gave DS 100 and had him go to Aldi and stock up on canned foods and take them. The idea of clearing out a section of our pantry and then having to shop and restock never even crossed my mind.


In our town, some of the food drives are not really advertised ahead of time. The group just knocks on your door and asks if you have anything to donate so I do go to my pantry and grab some things. Some of the drives do drop off a shopping bag and give you a week to fill them and put them back out. I surely hope I haven't donated expired food and if I did, it wasn't on purpose. I try to keep a few extra boxes of cereal, kleenex, toilet paper, etc on hand so I at least always have those. Another thing I have donated is bars of soap (new of course) that come in a multipack and we discovered that someone picked up the scented one instead of the unscented one or something like that. I know we won't use it, so I donate it to the food pantry and hope that someone else likes the scented kind. I kept the one opened one and just put in the unopened ones though.

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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:06:14 PM
It probably happens because when people look in their pantry to select goods to donate they see things they have not eaten. They just pull it and don't look for an X date.

treyzmom
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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:20:52 PM
I just donated a box of stuff to the food drive at the kids' school. The majority of it was stuff from my pantry, but I DID check the dates and added a few other things after a trip to the store. I put a few things that we eat regularly in there (Kraft mac n' cheese) and a few things I bought but the kids didn't like (Hamburger Helper.) I like to think that the right products will find their way to the people who can use them the most.

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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:21:47 PM


I don't pay a bit of attention to expiration dates on canned foods unless the can starts to look bad. If I were grabbing from my cabinet, I wouldn't notice if something was expired.



Ditto. We rotate food pretty often though, I don't know that I have anything that's too far out of date in my pantry. But I'm totally guilty of donating something like accidentally purchased creamed corn, or that pumpkin pie filling DH picked up when I asked for canned pumpkin - that kind of stuff.



Karen Gee
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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:31:25 PM
Dates on canned goods are a relatively new thing, maybe in the last 10 or 15 years. I think it's a ploy by the manufacturers to sell more goods. This USDA site says the dates refer to "peak quality."

USDA Food Product Dating


Cans may also display "open" or calendar dates. Usually these are "best if used by" dates for peak quality.

In general, high-acid canned foods such as tomatoes, grapefruit and pineapple will retain best quality on the shelf for 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned foods such as meat, poultry, fish and most vegetables will retain best quality on the shelf for 2 to 5 years if the can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean, dry place.

Darkangel090260
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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:32:52 PM
can food dose not go bad by a date. Unless the can is dented, rusted, or the can is bowing then its bad.

After having gotten many food box, i cant tell you if stuff is passed date or not. i never look. the only thing i check dates on are meat and dairy .


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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:38:45 PM
I don't use cans very much, they get very old in my cupboard. I do make a point of buying new cans to donate. A stranger is not going to know how well a can has been stored if it's been damaged and most foodbanks in my area will refuse them. It's a health and saftey issue.

DD's class had a food bank drive recently, and sent home several cans for being expired. The offenders were parents who wanted to be seen donating but not actually give anything.

So yes I do belive people donate expired cans deliberatly. I got to see the donators boasting about how they got one over on the school.

allpeas&abagochips
PeaNut

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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:40:05 PM
In my state the food bank says food is okay 3-5 years after expiration date. I thought that was just crazy when I heard that. The representative explained to me that people accepting a basket are in emergency food situations. Without this help they may not eat. It makes me sad but I know plenty of people who eat food past date including myself and are still alive and kicking.

angy101197
AncestralPea

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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:47:12 PM
When we have a food drive I make sure to take my kids to the store and pick out foods they would eat to donate. I figure if my kids eat it, any kids will.

LisaLisa
PeaFixture

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Posted: 11/7/2011 9:49:24 PM

I had no idea that people actually donated food out of their own pantry.


The only food drive I have done lately is the one through the USPS ... where you put a grocery bag of non-perishables by your mailbox and they pick it up.

I am the type that NEEDS to have 2-3+ cans/boxes of anything in my pantry (sometimes 5-10!). I guess I never want to run out of anything!! Anyway, I usually just go through my pantry and choose from that. Just today, I bought 8 cans of tomato sauce, 12 cans of soup, and 4 boxes of pasta. I could EASILY part with half, or even more than half of that, so that's what I do.

I always check for expired items when I donate, and if it's expired, it goes in the trash. I wouldn't want to risk it when sending it to someone else.

I like to think that when people donate items that are expired, they just didn't think to check the dates.



pennyring
Thrift Ninja

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Posted: 11/7/2011 10:25:08 PM
Expired food is FINE to eat, especially canned. The peas crack me up. The dates aren't magical. The food wasn't fine one day and bad the next. It's barely a guideline. If it looks fine, smells fine, it IS fine.

That said, I would never intentionally give expired food to someone else. Hell yes, I would (and do) eat it, but giving to charity is the same as giving a gift. You do it with love. You give in the same way you would give to your friends or family. Just because expired food is good enough for ME to eat, doesn't mean I would give it as a gift.

Conversely, there's also the school of thought that says sometimes it's good to feel a little shamed for taking charity. I consider it encouragement not to EVER need it again. You get too comfortable, a little entitled, you get too much good stuff for free, it's pretty much encouragement not to change your situation.



SuffyAnn

PeaNut 181,774
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Posted: 11/7/2011 10:53:10 PM
We cannot accept or disburse outdated food at our local pantry. We receive grants and commodities from Northwest Harvest, and if we take or disburse outdated food, we lose those operating funds/commodities.

I never look at expiration dates in my pantry anyway. I am not a stock up person, and always make sure to mark the tops of things I do not use frequently with a black sharpie. Cake mixes, crap like that that I may buy on sale and leave in the pantry. They wont rise if left too long.

As for what the people get from the pantry, I have mixed feelings about that after two and a half years of weekly volunteering. We have the exact same people every single Thursday, hardly ever a new face. I am growing weary of being their first stop, with the liquor store and smoke shop being their second and third. (All three are basically on the same block.)

MotherofJackals
Turning holy water into wine

PeaNut 27,168
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Posted: 11/7/2011 11:30:58 PM

Conversely, there's also the school of thought that says sometimes it's good to feel a little shamed for taking charity. I consider it encouragement not to EVER need it again. You get too comfortable, a little entitled, you get too much good stuff for free, it's pretty much encouragement not to change your situation.


I think the only people who get comfortable and entitled about charity are those who never really needed it to start with. There is nothing more humbling than doing all you can and still not being able to feed your kids. Believe me there is plenty of shame when you are that poor. No worries that any true happiness is being had along with that expired can of beans for dinner.

doesitmatterincline
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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Posted: 11/7/2011 11:46:26 PM

If it isn't fit for my family to eat, it isn't fit for anyone to eat.


ITA. I don't feed my family expired food and I wouldn't donate expired food. Everyplace I have donated has signs that explain that cant take expired food and I totally understood that, I wouldn't eat it if was expired and I don't expect anyone else to. I am constantly checking expiration dates and I also label and date flour, sugar, etc when I open it and put it my containers.It seems that I am the odd one here. I can't believe some say they eat things 6 months past the date or don't check dates at all! But hey, to each her own, as I like that I am very diligent about our food safety and freshness

doesitmatterincline
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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Posted: 11/7/2011 11:57:17 PM

I think the only people who get comfortable and entitled about charity are those who never really needed it to start with. There is nothing more humbling than doing all you can and still not being able to feed your kids. Believe me there is plenty of shame when you are that poor. No worries that any true happiness is being had along with that expired can of beans for dinner.


I agree.

lucyg819
pearl-clutching nitpicker

PeaNut 201,774
April 2005
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Posted: 11/8/2011 12:54:01 AM

I can't believe some say they eat things 6 months past the date or don't check dates at all! But hey, to each her own, as I like that I am very diligent about our food safety and freshness

Do you understand that the reason we ignore the "expiration" dates on canned food is that they aren't actually expiration dates? That they are are basically meaningless marketing maneuvers?

There's nothing particularly admirable about throwing away safe, healthy food based on a lack of understanding about what those dates really mean.

{sigh}



LUCYG
northern california

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
--Bertrand Russell



57suzi
PeaFixture

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Posted: 11/8/2011 1:21:06 AM

Do you understand that the reason we ignore the "expiration" dates on canned food is that they aren't actually expiration dates? That they are are basically meaningless marketing maneuvers?

There's nothing particularly admirable about throwing away safe, healthy food based on a lack of understanding about what those dates really mean.


I totally agree. I think maybe there are a lot of people who do not understand the science behind food storage and what constitutes "safe to eat".

Still, I understand the charities who feel they cannot except "expired" canned food.
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