Phantom Zero's Outreach Check List

Foods need to make sense. They need to be “functional foods” which can be easily stored, easily stashed, or easily or eaten “on the go.” Most homeless people have no can openers, no heating elements, limited access to anything which would allow them to use anything with preparation beyond adding water (and even water is scarce). They usually only have personal storage space, so large items are out. The more compact, and the less perishable, the better.
Non-perishable items can be stored for a later time. Don’t overstock yourself on perishable items, as you may be overstocked with extras which will go to waste. This is especially so for the same type of perishable items–repetition is boring.
It is sometimes difficult to find that fine line between quality and quantity. Certainly, some of the cheaper, more basic things will keep someone alive (as attested to by the offerings of many homeless shelters), but I’ve found that the act of charity should also bring with it an acknowledgment that you care–and better quality and variety foodstuffs and drinkstuffs can mean just that.
The best way to serve these things is by making a large box with a variety of items, offering what you have, and letting whomever decide what they want. It’s always good to have someone stand by your main supply whose job at any given stop is to fill boxes when they run low on one supply, or need to be completely refilled. A box should be kept filled on standby.
Of all these items, clean drinkable water is the most important.
(You can live up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water). Expect to hand out twice as much water than any other item–more if the items you hand out require water to make.

__No Preparation (Pre-packaged; Individual Size; Non-Perishable)

___Cereal Bars/Granola Bars


___Crackers (plain or flavored)

___Dried Fruit/Fruit Leather

___Energy Bars

___Freeze-Dried Vegetables

___Jerkey or other Shelf-Stable Meat (or meat substitute equivalent)

___Nuts/Seeds/Baked Soybeans

___Peanut Butter/Nut Butter

___Shelf Stable Fruit Cups/Applesauce Cups

___Shelf-Stable Cheeses

___Shelf-Stable Pudding Cups

___Trail Mix/GORP

___Vacuum-Packed Fish & Chicken (pull-tab or pouch)

__No Preparation (Perishable)

___Fruit (sturdy, low-tooth fruit preferred)

__Requires Preparation (Perishable; Cold Service)

___Cereal Packs (how-to below)*

___Hard Boiled Eggs

___Logan Bread (how-to below)**


__Requires Preparation (Hot Service)




__Requires Preparation (Non-Perishable)


___Ready-to-Eat Meals

___Soup In A Cup


__No Preparation (Non-Perishable)

___Bottled Water

___Juice Boxes

__No Preparation (Perishable)

___Bottles/Cans of Fruit/Vegetable

___Shelf-Stable Milk/Milk Substitute (High Temperature/Short Time Ultra Flash-Pasturized)

____Note: Once opened/made, these dairy products can spoil.

__Requires Preparation (Perishable)

___Powdered Milk

__Requires Preparation (Non-Perishable)

___Instant Beverage Enhancers – Cold (Iced Tea, Kool Aid, Lemonade, Powdered Gatorade, etc.)

___Instant Beverage Enhancers – Hot (Instant Cappuccino, Instant Hot Coco, Instant Coffee, etc.)

_Other Items



___Hard Candy

___Plastic Sealed Packs of “fun sized” Candy (M&M’s, Reeces Pieces, etc.; loose foil wrapped chocolate melts)

___Sugar Packets (for beverages)


___Containers and Serving Utensils for Bulk Items (Large Stable Pots for Chili/Soup/etc. and ladles)


___Cups (Hot/Cold Beverage)

___Soup Cups


___Utensils (forks, spoons, knives; individually wrapped preferred)


____Note: I’d advise caution before handing out drugs of any sort. Over The Counter drugs are still drugs. In high, or even moderate doses, they can have adverse health effects. If you do choose to hand these out, make sure they are clearly labeled and “single dose” packs, and never hand out more than one pack at any given time.

_Over The Counter Drugs

___Acid Controller Tablets (Pepcid AC)

___Antacid tabs

___Anti-Diarrheal Caplets (Imodium A-D)


___Pain Killers/Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory (Aspirin/Acetaminophen/Ibuprofen)

_Nutritional Needs

___Electrolyte Packets



___Adult Diapers

___Baby Wipes

___Hand Sanitizer

___Lip Balm

___Toothbrushes & Toothpaste (travel size)

___Women’s Products

_First Aid/Other Medications

___Basic First Aid Kits (band-aids, antibacterial ointment packets, etc.)

___Cough Drops/Throat Lozenges

___Foot Anti-fungal Ointment

Clothes should be clean and preferably new (or well laundered).  For outer clothes, the less conspicuous and the better they blend with the background in an urban environment, the better.



___Thermal Underwear


_Basic Clothes


___Jeans (the sturdier, the better)


_Winter Clothing



___Hooded Pullovers

___Knit Caps


___Warm Coats

_Sleep Utility


___Sleeping Mats



___Plastic Bags/Garbage Bags

___Refillable Containers  (Aluminum/Plastic)


___Can Opener

___Duct Tape



___Clear Plastic Tarp

___Hand Warmers (chemical activated)

*Cereal Packs (to be added)

**Logan Bread (to be added)