5 Tips for Donating Food

Boxes of food being loaded onto a dock

5 Tips for Donating Food (Hint: Hold the sardines from 1998!)
submitted by Feed Nova Scotia

Tis the season when folks reach out to help a neighbour in need by hosting a food drive—and we love that you do. Eighty per cent of the food we distribute comes from individuals! Knowing that, we want to share five tips for thoughtful food donation.

1. Think about the nutritional value.
There’s a damaging stereotype out there that people who use food banks want junk food. That is just simply not true. People want healthy, nutritious food for themselves and their families. We hear this all the time. Food is fuel and everyone deserves good fuel. Thinking about donating cereal? Pick a low-sugar option. Pasta? Think whole grains. Soup? Find something with low sodium. You get the picture. And don’t forget, we accept perishable items!

2. Make sure the date is good.
Food safety is a top priority. Our staff and volunteers work hard, diligently sorting food to ensure Nova Scotians can access safe, good quality items. You can help us out by checking the best-before and expiry dates before you give.

3. Consider special dietary needs.
Imagine struggling with food insecurity when you have Celiac disease. Or HIV. Or diabetes. Or a life-threatening food allergy. Imagine the stress of needing to follow a strict diet, but being unable to afford it. Our member food banks often get specific requests from individuals they support who have dietary restrictions or health conditions. Call your local food bank and ask them if they currently need anything specific to help support people facing these challenges.

4. Protein, protein, protein!
Protein is a staple for good health, but it’s expensive and hard to keep on the shelves at a food bank. That’s why it’s always on our list of most-needed food items. We’re so happy to see people come through our doors with canned meat and fish. And don’t forget about the other great protein sources like canned and dried legumes, ancient grains like quinoa, and peanut butter.

And last, but certainly not least…

5. Donate something you’d like to sit down at the table and eat.
It’s a simple concept, but an important one. Donating food is about helping others. It shouldn’t be about spring cleaning the cupboards. If it’s not something you’d be happy to feed yourself or your family then it’s probably not the best thing to donate. That can of water chestnuts that’s been in the back of your cupboard for five years? There’s a reason you haven’t eaten it. We kindly ask that you don’t pass it along to us. Here's a list of our most needed items.

We hope you’ll share this post with friends, family, and coworkers. We know that like us, you want every Nova Scotian to have access to nutritious, well balanced food.  We can’t wait to see you at our office with your food donations!

Thinking about doing a food drive, make sure you register it online so we can support your efforts.