Donations of safe and healthy food help provide nourishment to hungry families and also reduce food waste. When organizing or contributing to a non-perishable food drive keep these tips in mind to enhance the health of your local community.
Contact the food bank or pantry that you will donate to. They will know what their clients enjoy and what is needed at the time. Keep in mind that cash donations are also greatly appreciated and allow for discounted bulk purchases.
Donate nutritious non-perishable food that fits into the MyPlate model. Healthy canned fruit and vegetable options include fruit packed in 100% juice and vegetables canned with no-salt added. Lean protein options include canned or dried beans, canned tuna or salmon, canned chicken, nuts and nut butters. Choose whole-grains when donating pasta, crackers, oats, rice (brown) and granola bars. Non-perishable dairy items include nonfat dry milk, evaporated milk, and shelf-stable (UHT) milk. If you are wondering if your local food bank or food pantry accepts fresh produce, first contact them to confirm this before donating.
Don’t donate repackaged, expired or damaged food. Don’t donate food that is past its “best by, “use by” or “sell by” dates. Only donate food that is in its original packages with the label intact.
Don’t donate home-canned foods. Because of the risk of botulism in improperly canned foods and the large variation in the level of safety of the methods used by home canners, food banks and food pantries should not accept home-canned items.
The holiday season is here and parties and gatherings are being planned to celebrate the season. Whether it is a small gathering or a large office potluck, remember to bring healthy treats to curb high-calorie snacking.
Holidays offer many food temptations. Spread out the sweet treats so they are not lurking around every corner. Guests will appreciate lighter, non-sweet options more than you think. Parties can be stressful for some because they feel overwhelmed and forget that the season should be fun. This leads to mindless snacking and extra calories.
Offer healthy choices such as using whole wheat bread for sandwiches and seltzer water with fruit instead of soda. Encourage people to take a walk to work off holiday stress and anxiety.
Do you have several parties to attend? Plan ahead to help reduce those extra calories. Eat a small meal for breakfast with whole grains, fruit and protein. Don’t starve yourself thinking you’ll save room for party food. Take small bites and savor the delicious party foods. Go through the buffet once to reduce nibbling.
Above all, take time to relax and enjoy the holiday season!
If you need a gift idea for friends or family, consider getting them an indoor plant. The winter season can be long and cold but house plants are a great way to bring some color indoors. If you have a plant lover in your life, garden center gift cards are also a great idea!
Did you know that one in six Americans could get sick from food poisoning this year alone? Keep your family safe this holiday season by following the 4 steps to safe food: Separate, Clean, Cook, and Chill.
Separate raw from ready to eat foods. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods starting at the grocery store and continue through preparation. Prevent cross contamination by using separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready to eat foods.
Clean hands often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after preparing food, after touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, and before eating or drinking.
Cook food to safe internal temperatures. ALWAYS use a food thermometer, do not judge doneness of food by color.
Cook beef, pork, lamb, steaks, and roasts to 145°F with 3-minute rest time.
Cook Fish to 145° F
Cook ground beef, pork, veal, lamb to 160° F
Cook all poultry to 165° F.
Reheat leftovers to 165° F
Chill leftovers within 2 hours. Bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature, do not let food sit out. When storing leftovers in the refrigerator, use shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 40 °F to 140 °F). Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if food is traveling home with guests. Eat leftovers within 4 days or store in your freezer.