By: Lindsay Vaughn, Nutrition Communications Analyst, Campbell Nutrition Team
If you stand in a room with eight strangers from the community, there’s a strong chance one of them isn’t getting enough food. With 1 in 8 Americans facing hunger, now is the time to keep our food banks well-stocked. According to Feeding America, a $1 donation can provide 11 meals! As you fill your reusable bag for your local food pantry, keep in mind not just quantity, but also quality.
In 2015, 43.1 million Americans (13.5 percent) lived in poverty, and 42.2 million – including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children – were in food-insecure households.
These statistics are a stark contrast to my life, where I have too many choices and, often, too much food. Sound familiar?
Well, this year, amid my own favorite holiday celebrations, I’m concentrating on sharing what I have while improving the health of others, particularly when it comes to food. I hope these ideas help you find ways to give back as well.
Focus on Food Quality
Cleaning out your cupboard for a food drive? Remember to include nutritious options, which are critical for those who struggle with food insecurities. Be thoughtful by packing these items:
- Whole Grains: Include whole-grain pastas, brown rice, whole-wheat breads, and whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal.
- Fruits and Veggies: Provide canned fruits and vegetables, juices, dried fruits, and, if your local food bank accepts them, fresh and frozen fruits and veggies.
- Shelf-Stable Solutions: Look for nutritious, shelf-stable canned chicken and fish, dried beans, nuts and nut butters, and low-fat shelf-stable milk to help clients get the nutrients they need without worrying about spoilage.
When I started working at Campbell, I was inspired by our Just Peachy program that turns imperfect peaches into jarred salsa, with retail sales proceeds supporting the Food Bank of South Jersey. I’m trying to replicate this at my house by cutting back on food waste and donating the money I’m saving back to my community. Here are some tricks that work for me.
- Freeze it: With just my husband and me at home, we were throwing away a lot of food. I started freezing half of our casseroles, soups, and one-pot meals into individual portions to serve when we were too busy to cook. This holiday, freeze leftovers to use in future recipes or to heat up when you’re in a pinch.
- Plan It Out: Plan your weekly meals – and stick to it. It’s good for both your waistline and your budget, because you’ll avoid overspending at the store.
Keep Up the Momentum
December is a great time to focus on supporting our communities because it’s a time of giving. A time to be present for those who need a hand. And giving your time doesn’t have to be limited during the holidays, but can happen year-round. Get involved with programs that make it easier to give back, and surround yourself with people who value giving back.
For more information (and inspiration) about Campbell’s volunteering and community programs, visit our Community Impact and Food Access page. Do what you can to help reduce food insecurities – every dollar and every donation counts, and YOU CAN make a difference!