What Food Banks Really Want This Holiday Season

(Image credit: SuperFood Drive)

‘Tis the season to be giving — but how? If you’re thinking about volunteering your time on a regular basis, start with these five tips for finding the right opportunity for you. If you’re looking to do something charitable over the holidays without committing, your local food bank is a great place to start.

But don’t go rushing to the grocery store to stock up on canned goods just yet! We asked SuperFood Drive, a nonprofit committed to improving the health of the hungry, about what they really want. Their answers might surprise you.

Many hunger relief organizations are implementing new, healthier guidelines for donations, but many haven’t — and even if they have, they often still receive items that are high in fat, sugar, and sodium, SuperFood Drive representatives say. They’ll still give these foods out, but they’re not ideal.

So what should you give? Here are five items food banks don’t get enough of — but really want — according to SuperFood Drive.

  1. Low-sodium soups and beans: Canned items are totally fine, but check your labels. Some contain more than 800 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is more than half of your daily sodium value. Opting for low-sodium options can reduce the risk of hypertension, a condition common among food bank clients.
  2. Canned fish: For people who rely on food banks, it can be hard to get quality protein. SuperFood Drive suggests donating canned tuna, salmon, and sardines.
  3. Packaged raw nuts or nut butter: Raw nuts are a good source of healthy fats and protein. If you opt for nut butter, look for ones containing only the nuts and no added fillers (like hydrogenated oil).
  4. Whole grains: Look for “100% whole-wheat” or “100% whole-grain” breads, rolled oats, rice, and pasta.
  5. Gluten-free options: With a recent increase in the prevalence of Celiac disease, more people than ever require specialized diets in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Donate gluten-free items to ensure these individuals continue to enjoy the foods they love.

Do you have any tips for donating this holiday season?