Stocking the Shelves

Families need more than food when they come to Interfaith Outreach.
Volunteers at Interfaith Outreach in Plymouth.

Many people don’t see the food shelf as a place to donate non-edible items, such as dish soap, shampoo, toilet paper, diapers, feminine products, laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, paper towels and basic cleaning supplies. However—along with sugar, flour and oil—these are the items families are most desperate to obtain. Since food stamps and other grocery services don’t allow families to get these items, Interfaith Outreach strives to provide them.

Sizes are important, according to Lynn Vettel, the community engagement director. “We’re always short on large diapers (size 5/6) and pull-ups,” she says. “And people usually don’t realize they can donate household items to the shelf as well.” People looking to donate are encouraged to buy laundry detergent in bulk, and then separate it in individual freezer bags—each bag should contain about 10 loads.

Interfaith Outreach helps about 1,100 families a month in the food shelf, specifically, and since the shelf is lacking in non-food items, families are only allowed to get one or two things at a time. Interfaith Outreach recognizes that families need these products, so the organization is working to increase stock of these key items. Learn more about donating at