Making bagged lunches to donate

I had a pretty free day on this Halloween, and thought making bagged lunches would be a great way to spend a few hours of my day while giving back to the community. Homelessness is a huge issue in San Diego that seems to be getting worse every day. Yesterday, I volunteered with TACO, to serve hot meals to the underprivileged in downtown and we served 244 meals. The coordinator said that it was a record, mind that the organization has been doing this for over 40 years. It is amazing that we were able to serve that many people, but at the same time, that means that there are that many more people in need. I really love volunteering with them because they serve really hearty, hot meals, and provide social services as well such as legal and health. The people were are able to serve are so gracious and being able to have this interaction with them really make me want to do more for the homeless population in my community. Making these bagged lunches is a super easy and fun(!) way you can make a difference in someone's day and you can do it right from home! The bagged lunch might be the only meal someone has that day, or who knows, maybe in multiple days. 

To get all my supplies/ingredients I went to my local Smart & Final, where you can find a lot of bulk items for low prices! I had somewhat of an idea what I was going to get, from looking at online guides for bagged lunches. This is what I purchased: 

Loaf of white bread $0.99 each 

Brown lunch bags (100 pack) $2.39

Applesauce (36 pack) $9.99

Granola Bars (48 pack) $9.49

Sandwich wrap papers (1000 count) $10.99

Peanut Butter (64 oz) $7.69 

String Cheese (48 pack) $10.49

Grape Jelly (46 oz) $3.49 

= $57.50

I made pb & j sandwiches, and included apple sauce, string cheese, and a granola bar. I decided that pb & j would be the most cost-efficient, and that apple sauce would be great fruit choice because yesterday while serving meals downtown, several people made comments about how they have a hard time chewing certain foods because they have few to no teeth left. I also thought granola bars would be a healthier and more filling snack than cookies or chips. 


I used this guide on wrapping the sandwiches (instead of ziplock bags- save the earth!). I made about 30 brown bag lunches. Each lunch cost about $2 to make if you divide the total that I spent with the number of lunches I made, but I had a lot of left over supplies that I can use again. Many items were one-time costs such as the sandwich wrap papers and the brown paper bags. I also used only about 1/3 of the peanut butter jar and 1/2 of the jelly! All in all, I would estimate the cost of each lunch to about just $1!

I found this organization, PATH, that distributes the lunches. I used to find them. This is an awesome website that helps you find loads of volunteer opportunities that match any interest! (animals, poverty alleviation, youth, etc).

Notes for the future: Next time I make the lunches I will probably include juice/water and a veggie option. Also, it would be cool to actually go out and distribute the lunches.

I hope that reading this has inspired you to make some lunches for your own community!

Ginny Kim