ANGELES — From now through the end of the year, many
churches, schools and other organizations will collect food to
fill food banks and food pantries during the winter holiday
season. Trouble is, one advocate says, people who mean well
often could do better.
all the hounding from public health agencies and doctors about
the connection between food and disease, too many food banks
still get and hand out too much unhealthful food, says Ruthi
Solari, a San Diego clinical nutritionist who founded
SuperFood Drive (),
a nonprofit organization that works to get more nutrient-dense
products into the hands of people who rely on food banks.
that if someone’s hungry any food will do is outdated, she
still a very prevalent sentiment," Solari says. "We
need to pause, think about it and make these small changes
that make a difference."
might consider donating whole wheat pasta or brown rice, for
example, and dried beans of all kinds are a good choice.
frequently reported that 1 in 6 people in the United States
relies on food relief. Those people include children and
parents, older people and the working poor, in addition to the
homeless single people who need help. For example, Solari
said, more than 400 families who live in the tony Hamptons
communities on New York’s Long Island are getting food
banks traditionally measured their success by the total pounds
of food distributed. ("Soda weighs a lot," Solari
notes.) But some food banks have adopted policies of not
accepting donations of soda and have worked to increase the
amount of fresh and healthful food they distribute.
Talkin is chief executive of the Food Bank of Santa Barbara
County, which distributes more than 9 million pounds of food a
year, more than half of that fresh produce, he says. His food
bank doesn’t accept candy or soda and has occasionally
poured soda out to recycle the donated bottles.
bank provides donors with a list of healthful foods, and he
says there has been a significant shift toward such food in
many food banks. "We see it as a positive opportunity to
influence the health of a large number of people in the
county," he says.
banks are generally large operations that distribute food to
neighborhood pantries, where it goes to those in need.
Individual donors, Solari says, often can have an influence on
those pantries by organizing a healthful food drive.
shifting from the mentality of just filling stomachs,"
she says. "We all understand more about what we put in
our bodies and how it affects our health."