Pringle bells

Dear Ace: What are the best items to donate to the food bank? Some people patronizingly donate uber-healthy items that they think the recipients should eat; I like to drop in a 3 lb. can of SpaghettiOs for the kids. What to do?—Gerald Food

Gerald: You know, this question sounds suspiciously like you’re wanting Ace to dispense some sage advice. Forgive Ace, but “Dear Abby” this ain’t. Ace is facts, Ace is evidence, Ace is furiously jotting down overheard conversations in his reporter’s notebook while lurking in a back alley on a dark and stormy evening. Ace is not, dear reader, a counselor.

Of course, with that said, Ace applauds your tendency to stick it to the man and think of the wee ones. (Though, he’d like to point out, SpaghettiOs isn’t just for children—it’s a worthy dinner choice if you’re all out of Hungry-Mans.) Though it’s not necessarily on the Emergency Food Bank’s “always needed” list, there’s no accounting for taste.

What is on that list, to give you some guidelines, are nonperishables: canned fruits and veggies, canned meats and fish, beans, soup, peanut butter, pasta, baby food. But darn it if those aren’t ridiculously practical and, quite frankly, boring. So, Ace talked to Marcia Streiter over at the EFB, who indicated that they’re encouraging people to make their donations even sweeter this year.

“We would like special holiday foods [during this season]. Canned hams…yams, boxed potatoes, brownie mix, cake mixes, coffee,” she says. She pointed out that the canned hams should be smaller in size. (This is not a place to defy authority, folks. Small canned hams! You heard the woman.)

Marcia told Ace, “We’re trying to supply a few extras that would be a little special.” She didn’t mention anything about SpaghettiOs, or Kraft Dinner (another stellar option), but Ace is sure you can use your own judgment when it comes to making a donation. And, in case you can’t, here’s a little guidance (don’t say Ace never gave you anything): For every sensible item, throw in two that are slightly less so. Say, Juicy Juice. Or Pringles. Or Marshmallow Fluff… 

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 19 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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