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Posted August 10, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Donating foods to local food banks: Using MyPlate to guide your choice

According to the USDA, 14.7 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2009. Food insecurity means that the availability of and access to food is very limited. In these tough economic times, more families are having difficulty buying healthy foods to feed their families and are turning to local food pantries for help.

You can help the families in your community that are "food insecure" by donating nutritious foods to local food pantries and food banks. What kinds of foods would be helpful to donate? Use MyPlate as a guide.(View PDF here)

My plate encourages people to eat fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein foods, and dairy. Eating from these food groups on a daily basis helps keep us healthy. Also consider selecting food items that have a long shelf-life.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Canned and dried fruit, full strength fruit juices
2. Canned vegetables
3. High Protein Foods - canned tuna and chicken, canned stew, chili, canned beans such as black, navy, or pinto, and peanut butter
4. Whole Grain Products - pasta, rice, barley, whole grain crackers, tortillas, taco shells, oatmeal, low sugar cereals etc.
5. Dairy Products - powdered milk, evaporated milk, etc.
6. Foods to be used to prepare other dishes - spaghetti sauce, salt, pepper, cooking oil, chicken broth, instant potatoes, vinegar, grated cheese etc.

Avoid donating foods that offer no nutrition and that are high in sugar such as candy and pastries. Think about the types of foods that will keep people healthy.

Many food pantries have their own suggestions as to what foods are needed.
For a list of local food pantries in your community contact Karen Ridings, M.S.,R.D. at the Frederick County Extension Agency (540) 665-5699.

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