Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Don’t let them eat KD; only the best for the poor

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I had a mixed reaction reading this article about a food bank rejecting “unhealthy” food items last week. Of course, I think that they should reject opened packages and half-eaten items. It’s extremely insulting that anyone would “donate” things like a package of opened pepperoni sticks to the food bank. A donation box is not synonymous with a garbage can. However, removing items such as Kraft dinner or candy is not right.

 

It’s understandable that the food bank staffer(s) doing this think that people relying on food banks deserve to have healthy food. I’m sure that this culling of donations is done with the best of intentions. However, it’s not the place of the food bank staff to decide what food items are suitable for patrons. They should certainly remove any potentially hazardous expired, damaged, or opened items. They should not remove items based on perceived nutritional shortcomings.

 

Everyone, including those in need, are deserving of a treat now and then. The food bank patrons can decide whether or not they wish to take a package of Swedish Berries. That’s not a decision to be made by anyone else. Removing these items in advance (and what’s being done with them? Are they just being pitched?) reeks of elitism. Also, considering that most donation boxes are only able to accept non-perishable food items, this leaves limited donation options. People who are donating may not be wealthy either, but they may be able to afford an extra box of Kraft Dinner to donate when it goes on special.

 

Another problem with the proclamation that food bank patrons deserve healthy food is that many people to not have the facilities or abilities to cook even basic meals at home. Do you know what to do with a turnip? A can of chickpeas? (Okay, I know that you’re not the masses). Many people don’t. Donating many of these items to food banks simply leads to more waste. I don’t want to discourage you from donating these things. Unfortunately, the reality is that these are often the last items to go.

 

If you really want to make a donation that will help, donate money or time to your local food bank or community kitchen.


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Follow Friday: Feed Nova Scotia Day

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Today is Feed Nova Scotia Day. It’s an annual event during which the CBC holds a huge fundraiser for Feed Nova Scotia. This day makes it exceptionally easy to donate to the food bank. The CBC will be holding a donation drive on the corner of Sackville and South Park Streets (outside their radio building) from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. No food handy? No problem, volunteers will also be accepting monetary donations.

There will be live broadcasts from the location at various times throughout the day. There will also be live musical performances.

Many local CBC stations hold similar food drives around this time of year. Visit http://www.cbc.ca to find out when an event near you will be held.


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Food bank fare

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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.