One of my classes is involved in an ongoing food collection campaign for poor elementary students. We're supposed to bring in items for them and it started me thinking about poverty and the standard American diet, as well as the implications of our actions in regards to our belief systems.
The items collected for food drives are almost entirely low(er) quality than paleo principles recommend. Most of them are highly processed and derived from neolethal (stole that from someone on here) foods (e.g. wheat).
While grains are obviously a few steps above starvation, do paleo minded people have a responsibility to provide paleo friendly foods in these situations? Would it be hypocritical of me to take a box of ramen noodles? Am I endorsing the legitimacy of foods as a nutritional choice by providing it to someone, or does it come with an opt-out of (1) they still choose to eat it, and (2) it's better than the alternative of nothingness. Do I have a responsibility to only give things to others that I would eat myself?
Outside of canned vegetables, nuts, and jerky, what kind of long-lasting in storage, food-drive-friendly foods would fit the paleo lifestyle?
I've had family here for the last week--my husband's niece and her 2 kids.
Consider this: I cook supper for everyone in this household (normally 7; this week 10). I regularly serve a meat and 2 vegetables. Our visitors pick at the meat, won't touch any veggie other than potatoes, and consider ketchup a vegetable. They drink soda and "juice" drinks non-stop throughout the day, and have potato chips, cookies/donuts/etc, and individual bags of chex mix to munch on.
You might feel bad about giving something to a charity that you don't even consider to be food, but if what I see in family and classmates from school is the norm, then what are the chances that what you would like to give would actually end up in the hands of someone who would eat it? Most people eat crap. I've had the experience more than once this year where I've served meals of real food, only to have our "guests" run right out and grab their bags of crap and bottles of sugar, because that's what they want. That's what they consider to be food.
Give whatever makes you feel better, but seriously, most people don't eat like you do.
I've pondered this as well. It occurs to me that you could give sealed coconut, nuts, butters, and oils. Since I can't afford such things, I would give cans of tuna, bags of rice (better than wheat at least), and chicken stock.
Even better, if you can give cash, the food pantries use it to buy fresh meats, dairy, and veggies.
I would ask the food bank you are collecting for. Shelf stable is a real challenge with real food.
On the plus side it looks like food banks in your area are getting perishable food donations from walmart as part of their big end hunger program.
I am told one of the challenges in using these food donations is that they take more time and skill to prepare, you might be able to make a meaningful know how and time contribution to make real food that is already donated actually accessible.