Being that we're not even halfway through October yet, it may seem jarring to start thinking about the holiday season, but it's never too early to think about food donations, and a number of local food pantries need our help now.

Some of the most requested items for local food banks include all kinds of canned goods (fruit, vegetables, tuna, soup). Dry goods such as rice, pasta, and instant potatoes are helpful. And ready to eat meals like canned ravioli, stew, and chili are also among the most important items.

In addition to the Food Bank Of Monmouth & Ocean Counties in Neptune and Ocean County Hunger Relief in Toms River, there is also a handy list of the many food pantries in the Toms River area. Just click here.

Check before you go. Most food banks and food pantries will happily accept donations during their normal business hours. The food pantry finder here has contact information for many local charities.