Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Myth: All food donations are the same.

Answer: BUSTED!

Food pantries appreciate donations this time or any time of the year. Many people receiving donated food have health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. When making donations, you can donate non-perishable foods that are healthy choices such as:

canned tuna
►Protein foods – there are many options for you to donate but items like canned tuna or salmon in water are often requested by food pantries because they are healthy, low-fat choices. Other choices: canned beans, nuts (unsalted) or peanut butter.

►Whole grains – foods such as whole grain pasta, brown rice or whole wheat couscous are some examples to choose from. Whole grain options for breakfast cereals are oatmeal, oat cereal or shredded wheat squares. Whole grain crackers, especially reduced fat, is another choice. Low-fat graham crackers or animal cookies are also a good choice for a donation.

dried fruit mix
►Fruits and vegetables – Canned fruit in fruit juice or a mixture of fruit juice and water are better choices than canned fruit in heavy syrup. Avoid donating fruit drinks or fruit beverages – opt for 100% fruit juices or applesauce instead. Dried fruit like raisins is another good nonperishable choice to donate. For vegetables, donate 100% vegetable juice, diced or stewed tomatoes, or pasta sauce. Look for “lite” or “low sodium” on the label. Salsa is another vegetable option to consider donating.
canned vegetables and beans

►Other foods you might consider donating: low-sodium soups, canned chili, fat-free pudding mixes, spices.

Remember to check the sell-by or use-by dates before donating food.

Another alternative that food pantries appreciate is a donation of cash. They use this money to buy healthy foods not available for distribution.

Looking for more tips for donating food? See Give a gift of food on the MissouriFamilies website.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, schusterer@missouri.edu, 573-882-1933

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