The Sharing Center offers guidance on food donations

the-sharing-center-logo-with-tagThe Sharing Center, Western Kenosha County’s Resource Center and Food Pantry located in Trevor, offers the following information to community groups contemplating food drives at this time of year:

Community groups and social organizations often host food drives to fill local food pantry shelves this time of year. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, you can enhance the value of the food donations you make.

“It’s important to remember that donated food is most helpful if it is both safe and high quality,” says Sharon Pomaville, Director of the Sharing Center in Western Kenosha County.

Make sure to check the dates on packages of foods that you donate, advises Pomaville.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Quality or pack dates often designated on packages by the words “Better if used by…” and a date. These dates mean that after the quality date, the food will begin to lose its flavor and may even develop an off flavor. Donate only foods that are well within the quality dates marked on the package.
  • Expiration dates, such as “Expires 2/15/16” or “Do not use after 7/9/16.” Look for these dates on vitamins, yeast, baking powder and cake mixes. Do not donate foods that are past their expiration date.
  • Pull dates. Example: “Sell by May 16.” Look for these dates on perishable, refrigerated foods such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, eggs, lunch meat and packaged salad mixes.
  • Besides looking for a date, be sure to check the integrity of the package. To ensure that the food has not been contaminated, donate only foods from unopened, undamaged packages.

If you question the integrity of the product or wouldn’t feed it to your family– it is probably best not to donate it.

“If you have a question about a donation, contact the food pantry. Staff there will be happy to discuss whether they can accept or store the donation that you have in mind,” suggests Pomaville.

Pomaville suggests avoiding sugary cereals, salty noodle mixes, and fruit-flavored beverages that might be easy to donate, but difficult for families to include in nutritious meals. Instead, Pomaville urges consumers to donate foods that have a stable shelf life, are full of nutrients and easy to prepare.

Good examples of foods to consider are:

  • Canned vegetables, especially those without added salt.
  • Fruits canned in juice, unsweetened applesauce, and dried fruit such as raisins or craisins.
  • Canned meats and fish, such as chicken, ham or beef, tuna, and salmon.
  • Nuts, peanuts and peanut butter.
  • Whole grain, low-sugar cereals such as plain oatmeal, whole grain O’s, and raisin bran.
  • Whole grain or enriched pasta and brown rice.
  • Whole grain crackers and popcorn.
  • Spaghetti sauce, salsa and canned beans, including baked beans.
  • Reduced-sodium broth and soups.
  • Salad dressings or spreads, and condiments such as ketchup or mustard.

“Food pantry clients are extremely grateful for the help that they receive through the pantries. Pantry clients welcome your donations of safe, high quality foods so that they can feed themselves and their families’ good, nutritious meals,” says Pomaville.



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