By Ellen Greenan, RD
Hunger is a deep-rooted and persistent problem in Canada with 4 million Canadians struggling to put enough food on the table.
Each month, well over 20,000 Nova Scotians, one-third of whom are children, will turn to their local food bank for help – and that number climbs even higher during the holiday season when there are extra financial demands on a family.
Every month, food banks across Canada help more than 850,000 people by providing food baskets, hot meals, nutrition and cooking education, community gardens, children’s programs and even referrals to complementary agencies.
At this time of year there are plenty of opportunities for community members to help out their neighbours who may be struggling to put food on the table for themselves and their families. If you are considering making a donation to a food drive this holiday season and are wondering what to donate, think about the staples that your buy for yourself or your family on a regular basis.
Whole grain foods are an excellent source of minerals like magnesium and iron. They are also very rich in fibre, which helps to fill us up and make us feel full for longer. Non-perishable whole grain foods that are easy to donate include oatmeal, barley, whole grain pastas or cereals that contain more than four grams of fibre per serving. Remember to choose cereals with a lower sugar content.
Protein helps to build and maintain body tissue while also contributing to satiety. Nut butters are a great source of protein and are versatile for both snacks and meals. Food banks love to receive donations of peanut butter. Other non-perishable protein sources include canned fish such as salmon and tuna, canned chicken, as well as beans and lentils. When buying canned items, look for those with no added or reduced salt.
Canned vegetables and fruits are another great donation option as these are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and fibre. Look for fruits packaged in water or fruit juice rather than syrup, and vegetables that are free of added salt.
Shelf-stable milk alternatives like powdered milk, almond milk and soy milk are also great donation options. Be sure to check the ingredient list to make sure products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
As one-third of Canadian food bank recipients are children, baby cereals and baby foods and formula also make good donations.
If you a grabbing a donation from your own pantry, be sure to check the expiration date before putting it in the food collection bin.
Lastly, money is another helpful donation option to your local food bank. Money helps food banks to be able to provide fresh foods, and to distribute food to those who need it.
During this busy season, a simple way to donate to your local food bank is while grocery shopping. From now until Dec. 24, our local Atlantic Superstore is supporting local food banks in our community, including the Pictou County (East) Food Bank and the Pictou West Food Bank. This is part of a national effort by Loblaw stores across the country to help local food banks in their own communities stock their shelves throughout the holiday season and for the upcoming winter months.
During the Atlantic Superstore Holiday Food Drive, non-perishables can be donated in the food drive bins in-store, and cash donations will also be accepted at the checkouts.
This Tuna and White Bean Salad is a great example of a nutritious and filling meal that can be put together with some key non-perishable food items that are great choices for a food drive donation. Try it as a packed lunch that will get you through the work day.
Tuna and White Bean Salad
1 cup (170 g) PC Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water, drained
1 can (540 mL) No Name White Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup (125 mL) red onion, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
½ cup (125 mL) PC Mediterranean Vinaigrette
1. In a bowl, stir together tuna, beans, red onions, red peppers, celery and vinaigrette. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers promptly.
Chef’s Tip: Substitute chickpeas, if you prefer.
Makes 4 Servings
Per serving: 250 calories, fat 8g, sodium 510 mg, carbohydrate 27 g, fibre 8 g, protein 18 g
Recipe Source: pc.ca
Ellen Greenan is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians or contact me by phone at (902) 921-0700 or by email at email@example.com.