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Guidelines for Food Drives and Food Bank Donations

Foods high in fat, oils, and sugar provide calories, but few nutrients. These foods make up a high percentage of many diets because they are cheap and easy to find. However, it’s important to provide healthful foods for those with limited financial resources to supplement their restricted choices with healthy alternatives. You should prioritize WHOLE foods (unprocessed) with no sugar-added and low sodium.

Items that fit this profile include:

  • Nuts and seeds (no added salt or sugar) Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Fruits and Vegetable that can stand up to being in a bag/box such as root vegetables, onions, garlic, apples, pineapple, etc.
  • Peanut butter (Non-hydrogenated, no sugar added)
  • Brown rice, long grain wild rice or basmati rice (no white rice!)
  • Dry Beans & Lentils
  • Dried Fruit – no sugar/sweetener* added

Other items that are processed but work well in a healthy diet are:

  • Whole Grain pasta, oats, and cereals
  • Low sodium and sugar pasta sauce
  • Canned tuna & chicken in water
  • Canned fruits in natural juices
  • Canned vegetables in water
  • Canned soup (low sodium)

Sugar is used EVERYWHERE, and often it is not labeled as just “sugar”. Here is a list of some of the possible code words for sugar which may appear on a label. Hint: the words “syrup”, “sweetener”, and anything ending in “ose” can usually be assumed to be “sugar”. If the label says “no added sugars”, it should not contain any of the following, although the food could contain naturally-occurring sugars (such as lactose in milk).

Agave Nectar

Barley Malt Syrup

Beet Sugar

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown Sugar

Cane Crystals

Cane juice Crystals

Cane Sugar

Coconut Sugar

Coconut Palm Sugar

Corn sweetener

Corn syrup

Dehydrated Cane Juice



Evaporated Cane Juice


Fruit juice concentrate


High-fructose corn syrup


Invert sugar



Malt syrup


Maple syrup


Palm Sugar

Raw sugar

Rice Syrup


Sorghum or sorghum syrup




Turbinado Sugar


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