Boost the Value of Your Food Drive Donations
There are a number of food drives that occur in the Green Bay area during the holiday season. These food drives are key to filling local food pantry shelves this time of year. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, you can enhance the value of the food donations you make.
--Pull dates. Example: "Sell by May 16.” Look for these dates on perishable, refrigerated foods such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, eggs, lunchmeat and packaged salad mixes. Perishable foods, with the exception of garden produce, are usually not included in a food drive. If they are, choose foods that are well within the pull date.
Are home-canned foods, fresh eggs or produce safe to donate? Food pantries often welcome donations of fresh produce. However, home-canned foods, meat or eggs that have not been handled by licensed food processors should not be donated.
Avoid giving sugary cereals, salty noodle mixes, and fruit-flavored beverages that might be easy to donate, but difficult for families to include in nutritious meals. Instead, donate foods that have a stable shelf life, are full of nutrients and easy to prepare. Good examples of foods to consider are:
--Canned vegetables, especially those without added salt.
--Fruits canned in juice, unsweetened applesauce, 100-percent fruit juice and dried fruit such as raisins or craisins.
--Canned meats and fish, such as chicken, ham, beef, tuna and salmon. Do not donate meat canned at home.
--Peanuts and peanut butter.
--Whole grain, low-sugar cereals such as plain instant oatmeal, whole grain Os, and bran flakes.
--Whole grain or enriched pasta and instant rice—either brown or enriched. Boxed noodle and rice dishes can be an easy starting point for a one-dish meal.
--Whole grain crackers (especially reduced-sodium) and popcorn.
--Spaghetti sauce, salsa and canned beans, including baked beans.
--Reduced-sodium broth and soups.
Source: Barbara Ingham, food safety specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension & Amber Canto, poverty and food security specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension