Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Food bank fare



I was at the grocery store on the weekend and as I was leaving I noticed a display in support of our local food bank. It was one of those pre-made packages where you pay something like $5 and items to feed a family of four are donated to the food bank. I didn’t get a very close look at all of the contents but I did notice a package of Kraft Dinner. Perhaps it’s the dietitian in me. Perhaps I’m too much of a food snob. Whatever the reason, the inclusion of Kraft Dinner in this package really bothered me.

Kraft Dinner is pretty inexpensive. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen boxes of it on sale for $.99 before, possibly even less than that. Even when it’s full-price I think it’s only marginally more than that. Wouldn’t it be better to donate something that food bank users might have more difficulty purchasing? Perhaps something with a little bit more nutrition, and something which doesn’t necessitate the purchase of other more expensive foods (i.e. milk and butter or margarine) to prepare? Why not buy some pasta and a jar of sauce, for example.

Pick up an extra (or extras) of something that you’re buying for yourself or your family, rather than relying on the prepackaged selection in the store. Some other nutritious non-perishable items include: whole grain crackers or cereals, canned tuna or salmon, canned beans, powdered milk or shelf-stable milk, nut butters, canned fruit (in juice or water), canned vegetables. Even better, donate money directly to the food bank so that they can purchase fresh food for their customers. Spices and condiments are also a much neglected category when it comes to foods banks. Think how much better you can make the most basic meal taste if you have some herbs and pepper.

Think outside the blue box of orange pasta when donating to the food bank.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

4 thoughts on “Food bank fare

  1. The spices and herbs are a great idea! I never thought about that. Especially if the recipients are getting the same thing, a nice selection of spices can make a bland meal, so much better.


  2. I have volunteered at our local food pantry, I’m currently in a graduate nutrition program, and I’m a food blogger. Suffice it to say, I had a major case of Food Snob Shock when I first saw what was donated & on offer at the pantry. Some of this has to do with providing clients what they want/prefer; but I agree a lot of it is to do with donor preferences. Quality protein sources – canned meats & fish, nut butters, beans, heck even quinoa – were rarely donated but highly sought after by clients.


  3. Knowing a family who has used the food bank, their kids actually appreciated that Kraft Dinner … they could be just like their friends. I can understand and back the fact that Kraft Dinner has very little if any nutritional value, but perhaps that is not the function of Kraft Dinner at the food bank …


  4. I must admit that often I donate food that I won’t eat to the food bank versus actually going out and buying stuff, which is perhaps why foods that are donated often lack nutritional/”foodie” value. In Calgary our food bank says every $1 donated buys $4 worth of food, so I think that is probably the better route to go.


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