What Food Items Should You Donate at the Turkey Trot?

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When donating food at events such as the Turkey Trot, it is always important to donate healthy food items. Giving away leftover pie filling in the back of your pantry is not good for you or for the recipient. Healthy, thoughtful food items create a healthy meal for someone in need. Jill Hicks, UW-Extension regional associate and North Central Region UW-Extension nutrition education administrator, has tips to remember when buying food to donate.

•       Canned fruits should be canned in 100% juice, not in heavy syrup. These items can be applesauce, pears, peaches, apples, cranberries, or grapes. Dried fruit may be donated as well, as long as it has no added sugar.
•       When buying vegetables, canned dark greens such as collard greens or spinach are healthy. Starchy vegetables like corn or lima beans are beneficial as well. Asparagus, beets, tomato juice, and wax beans are also healthy options.
•       When donating whole grain foods, the first ingredient should be listed as whole grain.
•       If perishable products may be donated, skim milk, yogurt with low sugar, or fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables are good choices.
•       Dry or canned beans and peas are healthy options, as is canned chicken, clams, and sardines. Nuts and seeds like almonds, peanut butter, pumpkins seeds, and cashews are healthy and easy to find.
•       Extra items to donate include: spaghetti sauce, bouillon cubes, ketchup, coffee, maple syrup without sugar, pickles, salsa, salad dressing with little and no fat, and tea.
•       Foods that are generally not accepted are items that are dented or budged, expired, opened, canned from home, or containing infant formula.
•       In some instances, monetary cash donations are accepted instead of items and are used to buy specific foods that individuals and families need.

Specific to the Wood County Area, the top 10 foods to donate are:
1.      Canned tuna or chicken
2.      Low sodium vegetables
3.      Fruit in water or 100% juice
4.      Whole grain cereal
5.      Whole grain pasta
6.      Dried or canned beans
7.      Peanut butter
8.      Spaghetti sauce
9.      Low sodium creamed soup
10.    Baking mixes and pancake mix

When donating items at the Turkey Trot or any event, it is important to donate food that is healthy so families can get the vitamins and nutrients they need. Taking the extra time to buy healthy and nutritious food items instead of digging in the back of your cupboard will make you and the families who need the food feel better this Thanksgiving holiday.