November 27, 2012

Giving a gift of food

According to the USDA’s “Household Food Security Study in the United States in 2011,” about 15 percent of all U.S. households faced periods of “food insecurity” during the last year.

Also, 5.7 percent of households have faced such severe food shortages that one or more members had to eat less or skip a meal due to a lack of money or other food resources.

As you can imagine, food insecurity has many negative impacts on the health and well-being of those affected by it. Locally, food shelves help individuals and families from all walks of life to be more food secure.

This season is a great time to give to a food shelf, as many families struggle to heat their homes and deal with unexpected economic problems, which could stem from unpaid medical leaves, like staying home with a sick child during the cold and flu season.

A network of organizations works together in our region to make sure families do not suffer from food insecurity, including community groups and religious organizations. You can contribute to these food shelves through larger food drives or consider making an individual donation.

Most local food shelves offer food packages tailored to the needs and preferences of the individuals and families requesting assistance, so any food given is accepted and will likely be enjoyed and appreciated.

That being said, here are some recommendations for healthy, shelf-stable options:

Grains: Think whole grains, like oatmeal or whole wheat pasta, as they are healthier and more filling than refined grains. Instant brown rice is a whole grain and microwaveable, which may be easier to use in some situations. When your favorite cereal is on sale, consider buying an extra box to donate.

Vegetables: When choosing canned vegetables, try to find lower-sodium options. Some examples are canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, green beans, peas, corn, carrots and spinach.

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