Hint: It's not another can of green beans.
Credit: Photo: David Malan/Getty Images

Whether you regularly donate to your local food bank or tend to stop by around the holidays, these organizations are in need of other items besides bagged rice and cans of beans. The Great American Milk Drive has partnered with Feeding America, a hunger relief organization, to shed light on the fact that, on average, food banks receive less than one gallon of milk per person per year.

Food banks and pantries typically have massive refrigerators suited for perishable items, such as milk and dairy, but most people tend to donate canned and non-perishable items. The summer and holiday seasons create even more demand for perishable items, as children are out of school for several weeks and don’t have access to free breakfast or lunch programs to provide them nutritious meals.

The Great American Milk Drive is seeking to increase milk donations to food banks and pantries across the country through online donations. Since 2014, the organization has delivered over 1 million gallons of milk, but it still needs help trying to meet the nationwide demand.

While The Great American Milk Drive is unsurprisingly affiliated with organizations funded by American milk companies, such as the National Dairy Council, they are working to create healthier food banks for the greater good. Dairy-free milk options could even pose as an excellent alternative for donation, as most varieties can remain unrefrigerated until opening, are often fortified with important nutrients, and are safe for those with a lactose intolerance.

Looking for more information about eating a balanced diet?

As you start gathering items to donate during the holidays, consider shopping past whatever you can find in your pantry. Other highly requested items are fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats. Make a stop at your local grocery store to pick up extra nutrient-dense items that’ll make a major impact on those in need in your community.