March 24, 2017
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UW-Extension’s guide to food drives

Do’s and don’ts for healthy, abundant food donations


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BY TERRI WARD


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KENOSHA COUNTY UW-EXTENSION

As we ramp up for the major food drives right around the corner we should celebrate the generous spirit in our community. This year, for example, will mark the 29th year the Boy Scouts partner with local organizations for their “Scouting for Food” food drive, which has collected and distributed 6 million pounds of food since its inception. Another well- supported, major food drive, “Stamp Out Hunger”, sponsored by the National Letter Carriers Association will take place place in May. To date it’s the largest single-day food drive in the country.

A major source of food and cash donations for many pantries, food drives such as these sustain many individuals throughout the year who have a hard time making ends meet. So when we think of hunger in our community we clearly have empathy and devote local resources such as time, money, and food to feeding those in need.

What might not be obvious are ways some food donations might actually harm those in need rather than helping them, such as contributing to the disparate health challenges in low and limited income populations. Let the following reminders guide you as you prepare to donate this year:

DO:

Consider donating cash instead of or in addition to food items to your local pantry or food bank. Often pantries have to supplement donations and they usually operate on shoestring budgets.

DO:

Donate lean proteins such as fresh or canned meats and fish packed in water (chicken, tuna, salmon, sardines, etc.), low-sodium canned beans, dried beans/peas (black beans, black-eye peas, garbanzo, kidney, navy, lentils, etc.), low- or no-salt added nuts and seeds such as almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, etc., and nut butters (peanut, almond, etc.).

DO:

Choose whole grains over processed (the first ingredient listed should say “whole” wheat, corn, etc.), such as whole-grain and enriched pasta, brown or wild rice, whole-grain cold cereals with low sugar, whole-grain hot cereals, oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits, whole-grain crackers, corn or whole-grain tortillas, non-refrigerated, quinoa, barley, popcorn, whole-grain granola bars.

DO:

Donate plenty of low- or no-salt added canned vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, green peas, lima beans, asparagus, beets, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, etc., and no-sugar-added canned fruit in 100% juice, no-sugar-added applesauce and dried fruits, and 100% fruit, vegetable or combination juices.

DO:

Donate low-fat or non-fat shelf stable milk, powdered or UHT, low-fat, unflavored soy milk, or low-fat, non-refrigerated pressurized cheese made from milk.

DON’T:

Donate rusty or unlabeled cans, homemade items, noncommercial canned or packaged items, open or used items, alcoholic beverages, or outdated or expired product.

DON’T:

Donate foods high in sodium, sugars, and fats. Pantries typically get an abundance of these types of food products from commercial donors and often people in need of food lack healthy “choices” in their food environments.

Thank you for your continued support in making this year’s food drives the safest and healthiest yet!


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