JEFFERSON CO., N.Y. — This winter many local organizations have taken up the cause to collect canned goods and other non-perishable items to distribute to local food pantries and school backpack programs. To assist with these efforts, the Adopting Healthy Habits Community Coalition (AHHCC) has taken on a new initiative called the Nourish Your Neighbor Healthy Food Drives Initiative. AHHCC would like to acknowledge the following organizations for their commitment to the Nourish Your Neighbor Healthy Food Drive Initiative: United Way, Pivot, Watertown City School District, Indian River Central School District, The Urban Mission, and Benchmark Family Services.
Today in Jefferson County, 1 in 7 people are food insecure and this need is not isolated to the unemployed or the homeless. On the contrary, food insecurity affects our hard-working neighbors. Most families struggling with food insecurity have one or more adults working full time, yet are still unable to cover monthly living expenses. Those who need help putting food on the table are also more likely than others to struggle with type II diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. These health conditions are directly affected by the food we eat. In fact, the same people in need of food assistance simultaneously struggle with conditions associated with overeating as a result of being overfed, yet undernourished. Highly processed convenience foods, like those frequently found in emergency food boxes, are loaded with calories and stripped of nutrients. This makes the quality of food donations even more necessary and impactful.
The participating organizations listed above have agreed to request and promote healthy food donations that will help recipients maintain nutritious, balanced diets while still ensuring that the items requested are easy to collect, store, distribute, and use. Examples of suggested healthy items include: whole grains such as instant brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain pastas, and cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving; protein-rich foods such as canned tuna and salmon, canned beans, nuts, nut butters, and seeds; and canned or dried fruits and vegetables, particularly those canned in 100% fruit juice rather than syrup. Other items that can assist families with preparing more meals at home and relying less on prepackaged convenience foods are also important. These include: dried herbs and spices, unsaturated cooking oils such as canola and olive oil, powdered milk, low-sodium meat or vegetable stock, and 100% fruit juice.
To learn more about how your organization can get involved in this initiative, or to find out more about how individuals can make more conscientious food donations in our community, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County at 315-788-8450 and ask for April Bennett.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County
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