Donation Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo Gives Back to Neighbors in Need

In collaboration with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, guests can visit the zoo in exchange for a donation.


On Dec. 28, you can go to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for free — as long as you bring along a few nonperishable items. 

In cooperation with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, guests will receive free daytime admission on Donation Day, which will serve as both “a work of gratitude and appreciation” and “a way to both give to the community and say thank you for supporting the zoo and neighbors in need,” according to a press release.

Any and all non-perishable, shelf-stable and non-expired items will be collected from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the zoo parking lot. Free admission is not applicable to the Zoo Lights Drive-Thru event.

“Amidst the ongoing pandemic and rising prices across the board, families continue to struggle with food insecurity. One in seven of our neighbors across the region are struggling to have enough to eat,” said Charla Irwin-Buncher, chief development officer of the Food Bank, in the release. “Pittsburgh is and has always been a very generous community. When we all work together, I know we can ensure every one of our neighbors has enough to eat.”

An October 2020 report from Feeding America projected a 42% increase in food insecurity rates last year, and a 57% increase in childhood hunger — all a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Between job loss, supply chain difficulties and gaps in the school lunch program during lockdowns, many in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the wider Western Pennsylvania region went without. 

In 2020, the number of Pennsylvanians who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from grew from 1.35 million to 1.77 million, according to Feeding America’s Annual Map the Meal Gap. But on the bright side, Feeding America also predicted that food insecurity rates would improve in 2021, “as a result of policies implemented by the federal, state and local governments to strengthen nutrition assistance programs and the generosity of the private sector.”

Donation Day at the zoo marks one such initiative. 

“I have learned during my short time in the region of how community-driven the city of Pittsburgh is and how generous the residents are,” the new Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium President and CEO Dr. Jeremy Goodman said in the press release. “We wanted to do our part for our neighbors while giving the community the chance to open their hearts, as well.”

While all items are appreciated, there are a few that the Food Bank said it needs more than most: 

  • Canned fruits packed in 100% juice
  • Low sodium/no salt added canned vegetables 
  • Low sodium/no salt added canned beans and soup
  • Canned tuna or chicken packed in water 
  • Whole-grain cereal, oats and pasta 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Paper products, such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissues 
  • Household items, such as cleaning supplies, soap and detergent
  • Hygiene items, such as sanitary products, razors, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes 
  • Items for infants and children, such as diapers, wipes, Pedialyte, granola bars, crackers and juice boxes, but not baby food
  • Items for seniors, such as nutritional skates, drinks and adult hygiene products

For more information about Donation Day and the items the Food Bank needs most, visit the zoo’s website.


Categories: The 412