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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 an important part of the holiday season, often connected to comfort and memories. During this season of giving, you can make a positive impact on the life of our neighbors in need by donating items that warm and nourish families through Food Pantry Network – HOI’s 12 Days of Giving campaign. This campaign will run the first 13 days in December.

“The idea is to collect 12 different items that are in great need at area food pantries,” explained Rebecca Crumrine, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator.  “To achieve this our list includes requested items like healthy, shelf-stable food items, hygiene products and winter attire.”

The campaign is planned with the goal of encouraging people to donate items that will support the health and well-being of families accessing our local food pantries, as well as providing education on the importance of healthy food donations. The food we eat 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, are 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 supplying healthier food options this season to our food pantries. Education to encourage people to donate healthy food items to local food pantries will also be shared on social media.

“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 guests 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 Campaign

  • 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
  • Day 13: Drop off your completed box to a local pantry near you!

New to the 12 Days of Giving campaign this year is a toolkit that interested organizations and/or groups can use to implement the campaign. This free toolkit can help you to host your own 12 Days of Giving drive through supplying drop off signs, a fillable pdf flyer, a draft press release and all the social media graphics. You can also just use the toolkit to encourage people to donate to their own local pantry through your social media channels.

“Our hope is by supplying this toolkit, more of our pantries and families accessing pantries will benefit,” stated Rebecca Crumrine. “By working together and donating nutritious foods, we can make sure that those most in need receive the nourishment they need to support their health and well-being during this important time.”

Find the full list on Facebook at or online at Register for the toolkit to implement 12 Days of Giving at your location online at

The mission of the Food Pantry Network - HOI (Heart of Illinois) is to support, connect and provide resources to those working within the charitable 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 Rebecca Crumrine, University of Illinois Extension SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator, at for additional information.

SOURCE: Rebecca Crumrine, Illinois SNAP-Education Program Coordinator, University of Illinois Extension, and Sara Sparkman, Communication Manager, Tazewell County Health Department,

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.