During the holidays, a time of giving and cheer, our philanthropic side takes over.  Despite the dreary change in weather and the dreaded change in Daylight Savings Time, we all feel a little bit more generous.  I, personally, LOVE giving gifts and treats to friends and family to show how much they mean to me!

 

But, it doesn’t stop there…

 

The holiday season is a time to spread some much-needed holiday cheer to our neighbors and community members living in food insecure circumstances.  A dollar donation to your local supermarket or the bell-ringers at the Salvation Army here, a canned food donation to the local food bank or Feeding America collection bins there, make a world of difference for those unable to provide consistent meals to their families.  Our local food banks (find your local food bank by clicking here!) work hard every holiday season by collecting our donations and distributing them to families in need.

 

Here’s where my “nutrition brain” takes over…

 

Since these donations may be the only foods families have to eat over the holidays, it’s important for us to donate healthy and high-quality foods to help support the nutritional needs of our neighbors.  By helping to improve the health of our neighbors, we are helping to build a healthier community with healthier and more successful members.  (Think of how much better you and your children perform at work and school when you’ve have had a filling and nutritious meal!)

While all donations are accepted and valued, check out the guide below for donating nutrient-rich foods:
Fruits and Vegetables

Choose a variety of different fruit and vegetables in a variety of colors to optimize vitamin and mineral content.

Canned vegetables (low or no salt added)

Vegetable juices and soups, like tomato juice

Canned spaghetti sauce

Canned salsa

Boxed potatoes

Canned fruit or fruit cups (packed in water or 100% fruit juice)

Dried fruit

100% fruit juice

Protein

Canned beans are an excellent source of fiber, too!

Canned light tuna, salmon, or chicken (packed in water)

Canned bean or meat soups or stews

Canned or dried beans or peas

Nuts and seeds

Shelf-stable peanut or nut butters (without added sugar or hydrogenated oils)

Grains

Dried, whole grains are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals.

Brown or wild rice

Oats, quinoa, or barley

Whole grain hot cereal

Whole grain breakfast cereals (shoot for less than 4 g of sugar and at least 5 g fiber)

Whole wheat pasta

Whole grain crackers

Popcorn (without artificial butter flavor)

Dairy

Look for products that are rich in vitamins A and D.

Boxed, shelf-stable milk

Powdered milk

Canned evaporated milk

You can also donate fresh milk to families through the Great American Milk Drive at Milk Life for as little as $5.  They even let you enter your zip code to donate directly to families in your community!

Healthy food donations are a great way to spread the holiday cheer and improve the health of our community.  Happy donating!  At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. And #eatthechocolate.

Resources: Ohio Association of Food Banks & the American Dairy Association