By Avance Care’s Registered Dietitian: Shannon Corlett, MS, RDN, LDN
The holidays are a time for family, food, celebrations, and generosity. But for many, financial stress can minimize the joy of the season. Planning and preparing a special meal on a strict budget is challenging, and often results in unhealthy choices to reduce costs. One way for food insecure families to receive help with these meals is to visit a local food bank, where holiday boxes are often available to provide some seasonal ingredients. Food banks and food pantries do the best they can to feed their communities, but they rely heavily on donations and volunteers. This holiday season, consider these easy ways to share the joy of the holidays by giving back!
Wondering what the difference is between a food bank and a food pantry? A food bank collects and distributes food to other organizations. Think of them as a warehouse or storage area where large quantities of food are sorted and packaged to be taken to smaller facilities that work directly with the community. These smaller facilities include food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior care, and emergency relief programs. Food banks and food pantries share the same goals and are both non-profit organizations, but there is usually one food bank that supplies many smaller facilities. Volunteering your time or donating to any of these organizations will help bring nutritious meals to those going hungry in your community.
1. Donate Time
Feeding America, a nationwide non-profit network of over 63,000 total agencies relies solely on volunteers for 66% of its pantries, 41% of its kitchens, and 11% of its shelters. Each year they feed 37 million Americans, but 72% of food banks feel they are not able to adequately meet the needs of their community without adjusting the amount of food distributed. With so many agencies relying on volunteers, there is no better way to care for your community this holiday season and throughout the year.
Want to get involved? Check out http://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/volunteer/ for more information.
2. Donate Items
Feel like you’re already running around this holiday season with no time to spare? That doesn’t mean you can’t contribute. If you’re going to donate food, use some of your nutrition knowledge to choose healthier options that will not only feed but nourish the recipients. Here is a list of some of the top choices:
• Canned yams (sweetened with Sucralose/Splenda)
• Canned Pumpkin
• Canned tuna or salmon
• Dried beans
• Peanut Butter
• Trail Mix
• Brown Rice
• Whole Wheat Pasta
• Whole Grain Cereal
• Whole Grain Crackers
• Diced Tomatoes
• Olive or Canola Oil
• Canned fruit in water/juice (no syrup)
• Apple Sauce (without the soft peel back lids—hard lids only)
• Dried Fruit
Ask your local organization if they can accept:
• Fresh Vegetables
• Fresh Fruit
• Whole Grain Bread
• Frozen Vegetables
3. Donate Money
This may seem a little less personal, but there is a benefit to contributing financially to your local food bank; they have contacts and resources that can turn $1 into multiple meals! It is estimated that $1 can be made into 6 meals, that means a $5 gift feeds 30 people and a $20 gift feeds as ma
This holiday season, share your joy and your healthy lifestyle
with the people in your community!