In a previous blog post, my colleague, Anne Danahy, shared that March is National Nutrition Month, a time to focus on the importance of making mindful food choices and developing healthy eating and lifestyle habits. It is also a time to think about people who may not have enough healthy food to eat on a daily basis.
Many people do not realize that hunger is a big problem in our country and that 1 in 6 people in the United States do not have enough access to food. I have met many patients who tell me they want to follow the advice of their registered dietitian and physician and stick to their diet for diabetes or high blood pressure, for example, but that the food pantry they visit weekly does not provide healthy foods. They do the best they can, but many times they are not able to choose the foods best for them or their medical conditions.
During this month, therefore, I am not only encouraging everyone to help your local food pantries but I am also encouraging you to consider the nutritional value of your donations by donating healthy items. Here is a guide to get you started, but you may want to contact your local food pantry to find out if there are specific foods or items for which they are in most urgent need.
Healthy Food Donation List
Fruits & Vegetables – choose canned or dry fruits and vegetables (most food pantries request non-perishable food donations) in the colors of the rainbow to ensure a variety of vitamins and minerals. Look for “no added salt” and “no added sugar” canned products.
Grains – choose whole grains as often as you can for maximum nutritional value.
Proteins – choose canned lean meats as a good source of low-fat protein and canned or dry beans as a good source of fiber.
Milk & Alternatives – choose shelf-stable low or non-fat dairy products or alternatives fortified with vitamin D.
Of course, all non-perishable foods are appreciated in food pantries. Please try to donate to your local food pantry or to the Greater Boston Food Bank when possible and remember to “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” during National Nutrition Month and every month!