Food banks need quality food, not just quantity
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2012
10/25/12 at 2:49 AM
See a list of what a local
dietitian says food banks and
pantries really need.
That bent can of barbecue beans that's been in your pantry for a year may not appeal to you.
So why would you think it appeals to folks who receive their food from food banks and pantries?
It's a question posed by Suzanne Forsberg, a registered and licensed dietitian with St. John's Healthy Lifestyles program.
Food banks need donations year-round, but special attention is often paid this time of year because of the holidays, when folks may want to exhibit the charitable characteristics of the season.
That's wonderful - and necessary, as Oklahoma tied with Arkansas for first in the nation for the number of people who are "very low food insecure," or hungry, at 7.5 percent, according to the USDA's Household Food Security in the US, 2010.
Food banks and pantries are thankful for your donations. But Forsberg suggests that the charitable spirit also be reflected in the stuff we donate. That's why she has prepared a list of good foods to collect for a food pantry, as well as a list of menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner using those foods.
"My biggest pet peeve is that everybody needs good food," she said. "It's just sad that people tend to dump things into those food banks without thinking."
Earlier this year, Forsberg was approached by a local Girl Scout troop that was pursuing a community service project related to food banks. She attended a meeting to share what food banks needed and the importance of keeping them stocked with good food.
She imparted upon the troop that it's not right to give old food and cans of "weird" food to a food bank, as all people need healthier foods.
"What they really need are ideas for meal preparations and recipes to go along with the food," Forsberg said.
Canned and packaged foods are not the best, or healthiest, "but I like to teach in the good, better and best mode," she said. "Not all of us can afford the best, but we can eat better than just eating fast food all the time."
Forsberg shopped at Reasor's to prove that even people on food stamps can eat three meals per day for seven days on $25. The meals are balanced with protein, carbohydrates and fat, and would also promote weight loss if eaten in the correct portions.
"I thought it was such a neat idea that the Girl Scouts were doing and believe if all food pantries, churches, et cetera could stock good food and provide menus and recipes, it might help people eat a little healthier."
Those foods on her list include protein foods (like canned tuna or chicken, and peanut butter), protein and carbs (such as canned beans and dried peas) and fats (oils, olives, nuts).
"The family table is important, as well, and cooking these easy meals can get them all around the table talking," Forsberg said.
Yes, she's aware she'll receive comments from "food snobs" because her plan has so many canned items - "but there are foods that are good, better and best. Not all of us can purchase the best foods each and every day."
For a list of local food pantries, visit tulsaworld.com/foodpantries You can also visit the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma's website, tulsaworld.com/foodbank
Original Print Headline: Food banks need quality, as well as quantity
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
This is a popular time of year to donate to food banks, but donations of good, healthy food are needed year-round. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World file