In the United States 16.5% of households with children experience some degree of food insecurity. This can range from not being able to purchase food a few times per year to frequent occurrences of not having enough to eat. Tennessee falls above the national average at 17.1%, landing us at the 41st most food insecure state in America. While many of us are familiar with these unfortunate statistics, what we might not realize is that households that suffer from food insecurity are also at a higher risk for poor health and conditions associated with weight. The paradox of obesity and hunger is complex and it’s clear many factors come into play such as lack of education, resources for medical care, and transportation to access healthy foods. Our neighbors who worry about their next meal may also suffer greater levels of stress and depression, cycles of food deprivation and over eating, fewer opportunities to be active and greater exposure to convenience foods.

healthy food donations thanksgiving food drives

For many families, food from charitable pantries makes up a major part of their dinner table. You can make a bigger difference this year by giving healthy foods to pantries and food drives, giving others an opportunity to secure nutritious foods. This holiday season consider these tips to maximize your donation dollar and support full tummies and healthy hearts.

Ways to stretch your food donation budget

Publix: Watch for BOGO deals on canned tomatoes, pasta, cereal, spaghetti sauce, canned tuna, whole wheat crackers, peanut butter and canned soup. Combine BOGO deals with digital or paper coupons for even more saving. *Hint you don’t have to buy two items; each one rings up at half price.

Kroger: Keep your eye out for the Buy 5 or Buy 4 savings events. They often include healthy pantry staples like: canned tomatoes, pasta, canned soups, whole grain goldfish crackers, cereal, granola bars and salsa. Be sure to sign up for Kroger’s coupon mailers and digital coupons and combine paper or digital coupons with sale prices.

Aldi: This is always a good go-to for: canned vegetables, fruits, beans, tomatoes, salmon and tuna. Also find pantry staples like dried fruit, oats, olive oil, pasta, dry beans, quinoa, nuts and spices. Many Aldi stores now carry baby or toddler items like food pouches and toddler puffs.

Stock up year round as things go on sale and always have a donation ready to go!