Are your food donations going to waste?

Local food bank officials say donations in plastic containers are more useful because they are less likely to break.

COLUMBIA (WACH)--While most people donate much-needed non-perishable items like peanut butter, soup, canned fruit, or tuna, some may view their local food bank as a place to dump all of their unwanted pantry items.

"Unfortunately we would have to throw those away." Denise Holland, Chief Executive Director at

Harvest Hope Food Bank

, says its not because the items aren't appreciated but more to do with shelf life and regulations.

"Its just that because we are under such critical observation and such critical inspection from five to six entities that we have to very conscientious abou that sort of thing."

On average, Harvest Hope feeds 350 families a day, right now.

So when a donation like, "cactus paddles," said Holland, comes in to their wharehouse, "we had to look up, how do you utilize cactus paddles as a food?"

The shelves at the

Salvation Army

in Columbia are pretty bare and organizers stress the need for

unused donations


"In order for us to be able to use all donations, the food products need to be new," says Melanie Miller, Director of Program Services, "lets say if there's a bag of pasta, if there's a tear in that bag of pasta, then we just arent able to provide that."

Miller adds that if you want to donate, think about nutrition, "right now we have a lot of corn and we have a lot of green beans but if you eat corn and green beans for three or for meals a day for three or four days you're not going to be getting a good variety."

If you're picking up something other than canned goods, here's another donating tip, "buy it in a plastic container, says Holland. "Jellies come in plastic containers now, tomato sauce is something we always need, it comes in plastic containers, buy the plastic containers, because when you're dumping hundreds of pounds on top of a food drive all that stuff can get broken."