Whether it’s grocery shopping for an older friend, Mobilizing moms to make lasagnaor donating to a food bank or food campaign, food is a powerful way to support our communities.
With the holidays approaching, more people are beginning to consider how they can donate to a Thanksgiving food drive or even host one.
In 2020, food banks across the country have seen a huge surge in demand combined with challenges, such as shortages and limited volunteers.
Feed America It has been estimated that one in six Americans have dealt with hunger issues as a result of the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted food insecurity, and many families will experience food insecurity,” Adrian Worthington, RDN, LDN, director of nutrition programs at The Greater Boston Food Bank. “The holidays will look a lot different for everyone this year, but they will be even more challenging for those who are hungry.”
Now more than ever, the way we think about Thanksgiving and our holiday concerns may be a little different.
How to donate to a Thanksgiving food drive
“As COVID-19 has limited the availability of volunteer opportunities, there are two main ways you can help,” says Worthington. “The first is to support the local food bank with a cash donation.” The second is to donate things that you buy yourself.
And before you head to the store or get your credit card, let’s talk about the difference between a food bank, food pantry, and food drive.
food bank It is a large warehouse that distributes millions of pounds of food to local organizations, such as food pantries, soup kitchens and housing programmes, Worthington explains.
food stores Organizations that distribute groceries or cooked meals directly to those in need – and may also work Food drivesor public requests for foods.
With purchasing power backed by donations, food banks can help reduce overall costs by buying in bulk.
For example, the Boston Food Bank can offer a whole Thanksgiving dinner for a family of five for just $25Worthington says.
The big difference is that you buy the items of your choice personally or let the organization decide.
How to find a Thanksgiving food drive
Around the holidays, many grocery stores and local organizations Thanksgiving food drives run.
Another option is to check the website of your local food pantry or food bank to see where food drives occur.
“It’s important to ask how they accept donations from the community,” Worthington says. “They will tell you details such as the days and times they are open and any regulations related to COVID.”
You can also donate to Virtual food engines“, Says Caroline Bolin, MS, RD, LDN, director of nutrition for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. “While donating to a traditional food engine limits you to shelf-stable foods, donating to a virtual food engine allows us to get the foods we need most, including healthy and fresh produce.”
What items should I donate to Thanksgiving food drives?
“Food movers only take shelf-stable items like boxes, tins, and containers that you find in the middle of the grocery store that don’t need refrigeration,” says Worthington.
Healthy and filling foods are always in demand. “Our most wanted items are peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, beans, soups and stews, and pasta and cereal,” says Pullen.
Here are some good ones to start with:
On cold days, oatmeal is a comforting breakfast food that’s easy to stretch and customize based on what you have on hand.
“Think about the days before and after Thanksgiving and donate breakfast cereals like farina and oats,” Worthington says.
2. Nut butter
“When donating to a food campaign, it’s important to think about the foods people want and need,” says Pullen.
Nut butter is always a popular choice, especially for kids. Think beyond peanut butter and consider some allergen-free options like sunflower seed butter.
3. Canned vegetables are low in sodium
“Low-sodium items like canned vegetables or vegetable broth will help families prepare meals,” says Worthington. “If you want to focus on Thanksgiving, think about the kinds of sides you can serve.”
4. Canned proteins
Canned tuna and beans are shortcuts to healthy meals. “Proteins like low-sodium canned beans, chicken, and tuna are good choices,” says Worthington.
With canned beans, you can also make vegetarian options for Thanksgiving dishes, and then look for them Creative ways to use leftovers.
5. Canned pumpkin puree
It’s Thanksgiving after all, and nothing says fall like some delicious pumpkin spice. “Pancake filling and cake mix are great too, because who doesn’t love dessert?” Worthington says.