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Join Food Pantry Network - Heart of Illinois in giving back this holiday season through the 12 Days of Giving

PEKIN, Ill. - Favorite foods are a popular part of the holiday season, adding comfort and memories. Food Pantry Network-HOI is working to also make them healthier for people who rely on food pantries. The 12 Days of Giving campaign was planned with the goal of encouraging people to donate healthy, shelf-stable food items, hygiene products and winter attire to local food pantries, as well as providing education on the importance of healthy food donations. Food Pantry Network – HOI’s 12 Days of Giving campaign will run the month of December.

Food plays a large role in health and impacts whether or not families are able to lead an active, healthy life. Communities with higher rates of food insecurity have been shown to have higher rates of diet related chronic diseases when compared to national rates. Chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease is the cause for seven out of ten deaths in the U.S. We all have a role to play in getting food to our neighbors in need by suppling healthier foods this season to our food pantries. Education to encourage people to donate healthy food items to local food pantries will be shared on social media.

“The idea is to collect 12 different items that are in great need at area food pantries,” explained Kaitlyn Streitmatter, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed educator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell counties.

“In addition to healthy food, this campaign encourages individuals to donate hygiene items that may not always be available at our pantries,” stated Shanita Wallace, health educator at Tazewell County Health Department.  “Healthy, shelf-stable foods are so important to offer to clients year-round and make the holidays even more special. Beyond the typical canned foods, the list includes suggestions like whole-grain cereal, and spices.”

Over the course of 12 days, add the items to your donation container and deliver it to your local food pantry. 

Visit the Find Food IL Community Food Map at to find details about food pantries near you.

12 Days of Giving:

  • Day 1: Whole grain, low sugar cereal or oatmeal
  • Day 2: Low sodium soups
  • Day 3: Hygiene items - deodorant, soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene
  • Day 4: Low sodium canned veggies
  • Day 5: Canned fruits in 100% juice
  • Day 6: Canned chicken or tuna, in water
  • Day 7: Boxed potatoes or stuffing
  • Day 8: Spices - cinnamon, pepper, powders (garlic, onion, chili)
  • Day 9: Warm weather attire - new hats, new gloves, handwarmers
  • Day 10: Household supplies - laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels
  • Day 11: Kid friendly snacks - unsweetened applesauce, dried fruit, trail mix
  • Day 12: Low fat shelf-stable dairy

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The mission of the Food Pantry Network - HOI (Heart of Illinois) is to support, connect and provide resources to those working within the emergency food system. This network of community partners strives to help alleviate hunger and build a healthier community. If you are a pantry or food bank in our area, please join us on our private Facebook group called Food Pantry Network-HOI.

Please contact Kaitlyn Streitmatter, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed educator, at for additional information or visit our website at

SOURCES: Kaitlyn Streitmatter, SNAP-Education Extension Educator, University of Illinois Extension,  and Sara Sparkman, Communication Manager, Tazewell County Health Department,

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension, the public outreach and engagement arm of the University of Illinois, translates research-based knowledge into actionable insights and strategies that enable Illinois businesses, families, and community leaders to solve problems, adapt to changes and opportunities, make informed decisions, and carry technical advancements forward into practice.