Make Sure the Hungry Have a Healthy Holiday Meal

food bank
As you go about your holiday grocery shopping, think about buying extra non-perishable supplies to donate to your local food bank. But to make sure those relying on food banks enjoy a nutritious and healthy holiday meal, SuperFood Drive suggests that people shift how and what we donate.
SuperFood Drive is a charity that focuses on organizing healthy food drives, because often, food banks can become full of hyperprocessed, sugary and salty foods that are low in nutrition. And that’s not the gift most of us are wanting to give, right?

Healthy Options for Your Local Food Bank

The organization offers these tips on how everyone can substitute regular Thanksgiving staple donation items for healthier options:

  • For sweet items like cranberry sauce and gelatin, purchase versions labeled “no sugar added.” Some pantries can take fresh foods, and fresh cranberries have a long shelf life.  
  • Thanksgiving is often a starch-filled holiday. To make sure people get their greens, donate canned or dried vegetables that are lower in sodium.
  • Herbs and spices don’t often get donated, and they can really spruce up someone’s holiday meal. Classic fall spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and sage, are healthy and can provide just as much flavor than adding salt and extra sugar in recipes.
  • Dried fruit and low-sodium cartons of broth are also important and nutritious holiday recipe staples.
  • Stuffing can be heavy in sodium, so go with low sodium or even gluten-free versions. Food bank clients with dietary needs can struggle to get food that works for them.
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, are nutritious, have a long shelf life and can be the base of a healthy stuffing.
  • Donate pure pumpkin puree instead of pumpkin pie filling. The puree is much lower in sugar and packed full of healthy nutrients.
  • Unsalted nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pecans add healthy fat and protein to traditional holiday meals.

To help you find a food pantry, SuperFood Drive has a resource page with multiple sources.
Do you typically make a donation to your local food bank this time of year? If not, will you start this year? —Gail

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