What Makes A Good Canned Donation?

When many people think of donating to a homeless services agency, one of their first thoughts is canned goods. But are cans really the most helpful? The answer is trickier than you might expect!


Canned goods have many positive qualities. They last for a while, are generally durable, and can be transported easily. They carry a wide variety of foods from soups and fruits to meats and vegetables. These all offer a variety of nutrients and can fill an empty belly. However, not all canned goods are equally as helpful for our clients. Why is that?


One issue we often run into is not having enough can openers. Have you ever tried to open a can without a can opener? It’s not an easy task! We hardly ever have extra can openers which means no one is able to take one with them. This is very difficult for our outreach clients who are not staying in shelter and already may have very limited access to food. This is why you’ll typically find us asking for canned items with the easy-open, pop-tops. They are far more accessible for anyone to use.


Another limitation is getting a full meal out of a can. What’s more filling-- a can of beef ravioli, creamy chicken and dumplings, green beans, or mixed fruit? Let’s look at the nutrition facts:

Beef Ravioli

Creamy Chicken and Dumplings

Green Beans

Mixed Fruit

Calories Per Can

320

370

60

245

Total Fat

8g

21g

0g

0g

Protein

9g

16g

3g

3.5g

Total Carbohydrates

52g

29g

15g

59.5g

Does this mean one item is better than any of the others? Not in all cases! Even though the chart doesn’t show the value of green beans doesn’t mean they’re not still appreciated. However, we find ourselves in higher need of things like soup and other canned meats that can be filling for our clients.


If you ever have any questions on what are helpful donations, do not hesitate to reach out! Feel free to email sierra@willisdady.org or call 319-362-7555 with any questions.