Choosing the right foods for donation - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Choosing the right foods for donation

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If the snow has you in the Christmas spirit, giving food to the needy might be on your holiday to-do list.

When you donate to a  food pantry, organizers generally ask for non-perishable food items. But be careful, not all canned or boxed foods are good choices.

The Rockford Salvation Army food pantry served 3,000 families last year. It's leaders say they try to provide everyone with healthy options. But sometimes, donated items are anything but nutritious.

"A lot of mac and cheese, a lot of ramen, which is very high in sodium. And while it can be substantial in some ways, it's not always the best option," says Kozel.  

While buying these foods may be easy on the wallet, Kozel explains there are a few better options that won't cost you much more to purchase.

"Black beans provide quite a bit of protein, we've got chickpeas which are healthy for you, then here we've got long grain and wild rice," says Kozel.  

She says, just because someone is in need, shouldn't mean they can't have proper nutrition.

"And people say, 'Well, beggars can't be choosers.' But you never know when you might be down and out. And if you need that help, you want to kind of put yourself in that position, what would you want to eat? What would you want to get? Personally if I were getting food from a food pantry, I would want maybe canned fruits, canned veggies, beans."

And if you find yourself staring at the shelves at the grocery store, struggling to decide what items to donate, Kozel says you can always just give money.

"If you want to donate cash or a check, a monetary value, absolutely, your dollar will be stretched to the best of it's ability."

Kozel adds, avoid donating cereal, or any other meals that need additional ingredients to make, especially milk, which is something the Salvation Army's food pantry cannot provide

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