Dusty boxes of mac ‘n cheese, dented cans of ravioli and baked beans, creamed corn and cake mix past their expiration date. Certainly doesn’t sound appetizing, but sadly, this is what’s often donated to local food pantries, especially common during holiday food drives. Here are key strategies to donating with mindfulness, intention and respect – share these with family, friends, coworkers – and anyone hosting a food drive.
Four things to consider
- No glass – food pantries cannot take products in glass containers
- Avoid jumbo size products – these weigh down the bags and boxes, and often cannot be distributed
- Check the expiration date – food pantries also cannot accept expired foods
- Ask what’s needed! Call your local food bank and ask if they are in need of specific items
Donating Eat Fit Style
Just because it’s nutritious doesn’t mean it has to be pricey – or that it can’t taste good. A few examples include:
- Brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, chickpea pasta such as Banza, oats
- Beans and lentils – dried or canned (e.g. Blue Runner Creole Cream Style beans with no salt added)
- Canned tuna or salmon
- Natural peanut butter
- Low sodium canned soups
- Canned veggies with no salt added vegetables
- Canned fruits with no sugar added
- Plant-based oils such as olive oil or non-GMO olive oil (in plastic, not glass)
- Low sodium seasoning, dried herbs, spices
Print out the Ochsner Eat Fit Food Pantry Donation Guide and encourage friends, family and coworkers to donate more nutritious foods.
The bottom line: What we give matters. Donate mindfully, with respect and care.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com.