The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

What to give when you give


November 21, 2018

CLOVIS — ’Tis the season for giving, and ’tis the season for food drives.

It’s a pretty safe bet you’ve already seen at least one holiday food drive going on, and it’s a virtual guarantee you’ll see more in the last few months of 2018.

But what foods are best to donate? We asked Dianna Sprague, executive director of the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, what’s best to give.

If you’re giving directly to a food bank or charity, cash is king.

“We can purchase things so much more inexpensively than an average person, because we are in the Feeding America program and we have different access to food,” Sprague said. “I could, for example, buy a case of crackers for less than a dollar. In the supermarket, those crackers could total anywhere from $12 to $20. Cereal is another good example of that. We recently bought 1,000 pounds of cereal for $1.90, and repackaged it for distribution.”

Here are the most wanted items by the food bank, with rationales from Sprague:

• Canned meats: “Some people who are facing homelessness might not have access to cold storage to store meats properly. This ensures they can have meat as part of a meal.”

• Canned soup: “It’s a meal stretcher. We give out a lot of produce; it’s over half of what we distribute. Soup is a base for those vegetables.” She recommends low-sodium varieties if possible.

• Peanut butter: “It’s a great staple, not only for our box programs, but our backpack program for the kids. It’s easy to put in a sandwich, it’s filling and it’s protein rich. “

• Fruit cups: “They’re easy to put into the kids’ backpack program. It’s a good way to introduce them to foods besides candy and junk food.”

• Pasta, rice and beans: “They’re shelf staples. They last, and they’re also meal stretchers.”

• Baking mix and spices: “People don’t always think about spices, especially. But when you’re on a short shopping list, spices are a great way to change up your meals. I’d look for low sodium. With baking mixes, you can use Bisquick to make sausage balls, pancakes, cakes; it’s a versatile product. Cake mixes and frosting are also good to donate because a family might be expected to bring baked goods to kids’ events.”

Sprague said not to be too concerned about sell-by dates on packages, noting those are set by companies to be extra cautious. The USDA Foodkeeper app, available for free on mobile devices, gives a better idea of how long food is safe.


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