It's beyond important to do your part and donate to food banks. Food banks help those in need and every single donation counts. One in seven Americans visited a food bank in 2013. With the recent hurricanes in the south, however, the number of people in need is rising. 

Many food banks also receive food surplus commodities from the federal government. This means that food banks receive palates of overproduced products, which range from apple juice to rice. But oftentimes, my cupboards get too full and rather than throwing out unused food, my family donates it to a local food bank. While the intention to donate to a food bank is great, a lot of the time, the donated food is sometimes not needed or even used. Make a difference in your community and donate the foods people really need.

1. Protein

Think about what you'd stock your pantry with when donating to a food bank. Things like peanut butter, canned tuna fish, beans and other non-perishable proteins are building blocks for healthy meals. 

2. Pasta

macaroni, pasta, spaghetti
Alex Frank

Pasta provides large and filling servings, and also helps to build healthy meals. Pasta is an inexpensive meal that many people can easily donate. Props to those who donate whole grain pasta.

3. Rice

risotto, cereal, rice
Jocelyn Hsu

Preferably brown rice or quinoa, rice is another staple of healthy meals that last a while and can serve a lot. Rice is versatile, and when made in large amounts, has the potential to make a variety of meals.

4. Frozen meat

meat, barbecue, pork, chicken
Christin Urso

Do your research before donating to your local food bank. Larger facilities have freezers and are capable of storing frozen meat, but some smaller food banks do not.

5. Oats and Cereal

Rolled oats, grain, handful of oats, handful, hands, barley, oatmeal, oat, pasture, corn, wheat, cereal
Jocelyn Hsu

Oatmeal is an easy, nutritional breakfast. It doesn't require any other ingredients other than water, and it's also a great source of protein and fiber. If you're going to donate cereal, try to make sure it's low in sugar. 

6. Canned fruits and vegetables

Fruit, red berry, red fruit, sweet, berry, strawberry
Amelia Hitchens

While the preference is fresh or frozen produce, canned fruits and vegetables are a viable option as well. However, many of these canned commodities, especially fruit, are packed in a sugar-filled syrup. If you can, try to donate fruits packed in their own juice, to reduce the amount of sugar.

7. Soup

spoon, bisque, butternut squash soup, soup, cream, parsley, vegetable, bread
Julia Gilman

Soup is a healthy and filling meal alternative that's inexpensive and easy to store, but to keep it on the healthier side, make sure you donate the low-sodium kind. 

8. Popcorn kernels

rice, popcorn, corn, wheat, cereal
Sara Carte

Popcorn kernels make popcorn, obviously. Popcorn is a healthy snack (as long as you don't add a lot of butter and salt) that also produces large servings. 

9. Honey

honey dipper, honey, sweet
Sam Jesner

Honey is often a good substitute for sugar and other sweeteners. Honey also lasts a while, so multiple trips for honey aren't necessary.

10. Olive oil

rosemary, oil, tea, herb, olive oil
Jessica Kelly

Olive oil and other oils are essential for healthy cooking, and can be used in a variety of ways. Olive oil is a healthier alternative for monounsaturated fats. 

Access to healthy food shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right guaranteed to all. Next time, you're cleaning out your pantry or even running to the store, donate the foods that food banks really need. Remember to look at the nutrition label and remember that someone else is relying on that item.