Food banks are at the center of the hunger crisis, providing 3 billion meals per year to people in need. Food insecurity (which is what the USDA considers as “lack of access to enough food for all household members”) exists in virtually every county in America.

But the food insecurity problem extends past just food products, and into all groceries. For many people, each everyday purchase is a big challenge—from shampoo to baby formula to laundry detergent. Even with food pantries working as hard as they do, there are often still major gaps in basic necessities.

Many people and groups make donations to food banks and pantries, but it’s important to know what items organizations helping to feed hunger need most. Will your can of green beans have an impact? Definitely. But how can you maximize your impact, so that your donation can best support others?food pantry (5)


 Infographic by MSquared Graphics in partnership with Groundswell.

Amanda Oliver is a freelance writer, librarian, and frequent traveler. Currently all of her belongings fit into one suitcase. Visit her website, or follow her on Twitter: @aelaineo.