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'Tis the season for food drives. And I challenge everyone to give with the real desire to bless a hungry person or hungry family this year, not to just clean out your cupboard of inedible slop.

Look, I know that looking a gift horse in the mouth is rude, but what's worse: A hungry family bemoaning a 3-year-old can of creamed corn, or the gall the giver had to pass their trash off as a donation? Personally, I believe the latter is worse.

Lubbock has a pretty high food-insecurity score, and this year more people are food insecure than ever. I truly hope you donate non-perishable, good quality food to the charity or church of your choice. I will be donating to the South Plains Food Bank.

Here are a few great items to donate:

  • peanut butter
  • soup
  • "pop top" lids (because some folks don't have access to a can opener)
  • dry rice
  • dry beans
  • applesauce
  • pasta and sauce
  • nuts
  • shelf-stable protein drinks
  • shelf-stable milk
  • canned vegetables
  • box mixes that only require water to make
  • instant mashed potatoes
  • whole-grain cereal
  • protein/granola bars
  • canned meat (tuna, chicken or ham)
  • cooking oils
  • spices

There's also a real need for specialty items for folks with dietary issues and those with chewing or swallowing issues. Ensure and various types of broth are great and easy to find. Many seniors and disabled folks need these types of food. I'll be donating Ensure in honor of Kelly Plasker, because even though she wasn't 80, she sure loved her Ensure.

Things to avoid are expired items, damaged items like dented cans (which can harbor botulism) and, in some cases, food items in glass, because they might get damaged in transit (ask the organization you're donating to).

Some people will tell you not to donate junk food, but I think everyone deserves a treat, and Little Debbie's have quite the shelf life.

Of course, cash is always king, so if you can and want to donate money, the food bank can usually negotiate for better prices on food and/or get fresh items if they know they can be used. And if they already have 9,000 green beans, they can opt for something else.

If you can, give...and give generously. Give like you're the one that's going to eat it. Because so many of us are a paycheck or two from needing exactly the same type of help. I believe in you, Lubbock. Let's take care of each other.