Here’s A Surprisingly Valid Reason To Boycott Your Local Food Drive

canned food

[credit provider=”dyobmit on flickr”]

‘Tis the time to be charitable and drop off all those cans of sodium-laden soup at your office or child’s local food drive, right? Err, not quite.In a recent Slate essay, Matthew Yglesias argues he’s not so convinced supporting food drives is worth it, even calling the enterprise a “terrible idea.” He writes:

“Katherina Rosqueta, executive director of the centre for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that food providers can get what they need for ‘pennies on the dollar.’ She estimates that they pay about 10 cents a pound for food that would cost you $2 per pound retail.”

This means Americans would do better to donate money directly, rather than buy up extra cans of food (at inflated costs, no less) only to turn around and cast them off.

The cans of donated food aren’t all that nutritious—Yglesias spoke to a development assistant at Washington D.C.’s Bread for the City who said so—and as much as 50 per cent of it goes to waste, as the holiday season’s influx of cans makes it harder for charity workers to sort through them and determine which ones a family should receive.

“For a long time we just basically kept politely quiet about the fact that food drives weren’t as helpful as people assumed,” said Bloom, the development assistant. But now it looks like they’ve had enough, and are trying to use shopping lists and other guidelines to make the efforts worthwhile.

There are still plenty ways to make a difference this season. For those who can’t afford charity donations, we compiled a group of sites that you let you click and do it for free, and Americans with airline miles to spare can donate them to those in need through sites like California’s Dream Foundation. Do-gooders can also turn their old gift cards into cash by participating in GiftCardGranny‘s Gift Card Exchange Day (Dec. 26).

Looking for more creative ways to give back? Try making one of these excellent LEGO ornaments >