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Thursday, 04 September 2014 06:59

Everyone should be able to have their cake and eat it too

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An Ottawa, Ont. charity captured the attention of the media at the end of August when it was learned a policy exists which means officials with the Parkdale Food Centre refuse to order from their local food bank, any items considered “low quality” such as canned pastas, potato chips and the staple in some households, Kraft Dinner.

Some argued no donation should be refused, while others said it was nice to see a stand being taken against a deluge of macaroni and cheese and ichiban noodles.
Everyone has probably been guilty at some point of taking items from their own cupboards they don’t want and donating them to their local food banks.
Heading down to the local grocery store and buying a case of those affordable ichiban noodles when food bank officials are in dire need of donations, can sometimes be the cheapest and easiest way to lend a hand.
We walk away basking in the rosy glow of our donation. But maybe we haven’t made the best decision. Would we want to live off of noodles, pastas and potato chips because they are the cheapest items to purchase? Probably not.
Everyone likes variety in their diet and it’s important too.
Calgary Food Bank officials, in a story that appeared in the Calgary Herald, said “balance” is a principle they use when building food hampers for clients. They rely on social media and the website to highlight the items they may need at any given time.
Balance is a good approach for people who donate too.
Although we’re hanging onto summer with a tight fist, we are heading into the fall and winter season. Traditionally, while food banks need supplies year round, there is always a push for donations every year leading up to Christmas. Now is the time to start thinking about what kind of donation to make to help hungry families.
Why not approach the task as one would when shopping for one’s own family. Fill a cart with a good assortment of healthy non-perishable items, such as tasty, low-sodium soups, fruit canned in juice rather than syrup and staples including peanut butter, jams and cereals not loaded with sugar.
It’s okay to throw in a couple boxes of macaroni and cheese or pudding snacks for lunches. One would likely do this for their own children, if they are trying to stick with a motto of “everything in moderation.”
Not everyone eats healthy 100 per cent of the time and it’s important to remember there is a place for comfort foods. People who are struggling, living pay cheque to pay cheque deserve to have their needs fulfilled, but also some of their wants too.
The more items food bank officials have to choose from, the better the variety they can offer their clients.
Better yet, if a donor is unsure of what his or her local food bank requires, just give cash. Food bank officials can take one dollar and turn it into five when it comes to meeting their needs. With cash in hand, food bank officials can source the items they most need at any given time and know they have the money to pay for them.
By using some common sense, ensuring donations are items the donors would themselves want to consume, and trying to make regular cash donations throughout the year, all hungry families can enjoy nutritious and well-balanced meals when they are relying upon food banks. Then there wouldn’t be the need for a policy like the one followed by Ontario’s Parkdale Food Centre.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor of the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor