We are in our local Loblaws more often these days as it’s a busy season of hosting company over for various get togethers and all kinds of reasons to be baking. The cookie exchanges, holiday parties and the pot luck suppers… yes, I live at the grocery store.
The other day hubby and the kids reminded me that it’s also a time to fill a bag or two with food items for the local food banks. During our family conversations, questions have been popping up from the kids like who uses the food banks and why do we give?
According to Amanda Li, Registered Dietician at Loblaws, 37% of people helped by food banks in Canada are children and 41% of people know someone who has used food bank. Talking about food banks with your kids can help instill charitable values. “There may be even a family in your school who has been a recipient of food from a food bank,” says Amanda. “If your kids are old enough, volunteering at a local food bank is a great family activity for the holidays.”
Amanda also suggests that parents use analogies to explain food banks to younger kids. “When it comes to healthy eating, I like to use a race car analogy. Imagine sitting in a race car zooming around a track when you realize you’re low on gas. It’s time for a pit stop to refuel. Given the choice, would you fill your car with the highest quality of gas to give you the best performance on the track, or a low quality gas that was sticky and goopy? Overly processed food is like low quality gas- when we stuff ourselves with it we can’t learn as quickly, run as fast or grow as tall. That’ s why we need to eat real foods like salads, carrots, cucumbers, apples bananas, rice, spaghetti, yogurt, and eggs! Eating real foods make cookies, ice cream and chocolate more of a treat. Remember that treats only make us feel good if we don’t eat them all the time.”
How do you broach the topic of food banks with your kids?
“It can start with a simple question,” says Amanda. “‘Have you wondered how that apple got in your lunch bag?’ or ‘Mom and dad works hard to earn money so that they could go to the supermarket and buy food for your lunch. Unfortunately, some moms and dads don’t make as much money or may have just lost their jobs’. So they have to go to a place called the food bank. Since we have enough food, we can share some of ours to help other kids.”
Here is a list of most-needed items at Food Banks NOW
- Pasta (canned or dry) and pasta sauces
- Canned meats and fish
- Meat alternatives (peanut butter, soy, assorted nuts)
- Canned goods (beans, soups, and stews)
- Dairy (canned and powdered milk)
- Canned vegetables an dfruit
- Whole grain cereal
- Infant foods and baby formula
- Bathroom tissue and diapers
- Personal hygiene products
And if you don’t have time, I know that Loblaws Holiday Food Drive will accept cash donations. All food and cash donations in Ontario are split between Ontario Associations of Food Banks and local food banks. Since 2008, their customers have donated more than 8.5 million dollars and 8.9 million pounds of food to food drives across Canada.
Here’s a thought..if everyone in Ontario donates just 2 items to the Holiday Food Drive, the average demand at food banks will be met for the next three months!