1. Feminine hygiene products. Tampons, pads. Anything needed like that is incredibly important.
2. Diapers. Both for babies, and for older people.
3. Toothbrushes and toothpaste. Soap, shampoo, and so on.
4. Socks (men’s, women’s and children’s).
5. Cooking supplies. Butter. Olive oil. Flour. Folks that use pantries cook but don’t always have these items. They’re important, basic cooking tools.
6. Pet food!
7. Paper and cleaning products. These are not often considered necessary items, but not having to pay for them frees up a lot of money for someone who is having a hard time.
8. Cash, since the buying power of the food bank is greater than what you can give. Sometimes by a factor of 2-3.
9. Baby food products or baby stuff in general.
10. Powdered milk, powdered drink mix, tea, or juice concentrate.
11. Toilet paper and baby wipes.
12. Pastry mixes that only need water or water and oil, like complete pancake mix, complete muffin mix.
13. Instant coffee. We can normally get free hot water at most gas stations.
14. Canned fruits! Easily one of the most looked over items because they tend to be more expensive than the default corn and green beans. Don’t bring corn and green beans. Everyone else does already, and there’s always too much.
15. Chap sticks and lip balms.
16. Flip flops and sandals.
17. School supplies like pens (color and regular ink), pencils (color and graphite), erasers, sharpeners, notebooks, binders, planners, calculators, rulers/geometry sets.
18. Work clothing for men and women (not the same thing as casual/going out clothing).
19. Laundry and dish detergent.
20. More things for single people. Family-size is great for families. But for people who are alone, it means that once open it will either go to waste or more likely have someone eat something that had gone bad.
21. Canned meat that isn’t tuna. Salmon is gone in a second, chicken goes super fast at my pantry, then SPAM (all flavors), and then corned beef and deviled ham, then sardines and anchovies, and then oysters.
22. Children’s books and coloring books. My local food bank has a shelf for non-food items that is often sparse, but will have items like those mentioned in other comments (sanitary products, diapers, socks), as well as books. A lot of people shopping at food banks have kids, but can’t always afford “luxury” items like books.
23. Dried oats and granola bars.
24. Reusable water bottles. Not only are they relatively cheap but not many people think about them. Extremely useful, especially when homeless, and can be used for soups/juices/etc. as well. A good water bottle will take you a long way.
25. Pasta and pasta sauce, this was at the top of their list.
26. Boxes of cereal, both the add hot water kind and regular.
27. Peanut butter. Very useful for families.
28. Beans (canned or dry).
29. Canned veggies (in low or no salt).
30. Your time. Most food banks have dedicated volunteers who are familiar with the processes and the people going to the food bank. If you are going to go once, do what you are told and otherwise keep out of the way. Becoming a regular volunteer is better.