The experts say the updated COVID booster vaccination will reduce your risk for long COVID. If you know anyone with long COVID you have observed their fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, brain fog and more. You will want to get your booster when eligible. I got mine. Continue to eat healthy — it does not have to be expensive to do so — skip the junk food.
Q I have been getting requests for food donations for pantries. What are the best foods to give? PK, Greenville
A Thanks for being thoughtful about your donations. We are hearing pantries are low on food even as the demand keeps going up. As you think about your donations for now as well as the holidays, you will want to give health promoting, self-stable or non-perishable foods that are in cans, pouches or boxes (no glass please).
The Brody medical students from their Service-Learning Distinction track a couple of years ago made a great list. Keep this article handy and use as your shopping list. We recommend:
Canned or dried fruit that is light, unsweetened or in its own juice, and if the label says no added sugar, that’s even better. Examples include applesauce, mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, tropical fruit, fruit cups, unsweetened dried raisins, apricots, apples, cranberries and cherries.
Canned vegetables, and if no-added-salt products are available that’s great. Examples include asparagus, artichokes, green beans, collard or other greens, carrots, mixed vegetables, mushrooms, okra, spinach, tomatoes and spaghetti sauce.
Grains are important. Great examples are brown rice, cereal and granola bars with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, pasta (especially whole wheat) unflavored grits, corn or wheat tortillas, quinoa, plain oatmeal, stuffing and cornbread mix, boxed mac n’ cheese and popcorn kernels.
Give starchy vegetables like corn, lima beans, mashed potato flakes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, sweet peas, any kind of dried beans, lentils and baked beans (best without added pork).
Protein is important, preferably without added salt or sugar. Include canned chicken, salmon or tuna, peanut butter, nuts and seeds (like peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts), and protein bars with at least 10 grams of protein and 2 grams of dietary fiber.
And finally dried, powdered or evaporated milk in boxes, pouches or cans and sugar-free pudding mixes.
The Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina (foodbankcenc.org) serves our community. They accept cash donations and their buying power turns every dollar you donate to them into five meals.
Speaking of hunger, The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health is next week, Sept. 28. The agenda is now posted (health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/white-house-conference-hunger-nutrition-and-health/conference-agenda). If you are interested in both learning more about hunger and new ways to address it, you won’t want to miss the 9-10 a.m. session on the national strategy, the 10:15-noon panel discussion of the five pillars — ending hunger, improving nutrition, improving physical activity, reducing diet-related diseases and closing disparity gaps by 2030 — and the 1:30-3 p.m. remarks from the White House administration highlighting solutions. Register at the conference site to receive the link to the sessions.
Join a group of friends and watch and discuss together what we can do in eastern North Carolina. I was delighted to learn a few of my nutrition colleagues have been invited to represent our professionals who have and continue to work to help people eat healthy, even if they have limited resources.
Some suggestions to help you eat healthy focus on reducing misleading or confusing information about the foods you choose to eat. Some are related to creating more effective labeling like front-of-pack nutrition flags, health claims you can trust and warning labels that we have already researched and found helpful to consumers but never implemented. Others include implementing standards (voluntary if the industry adopts them and perhaps mandatory if it doesn’t) for additives such as sodium and sugar.
I remember as a young graduate student we worked on food marketing messages for children to help them enjoy eating healthy. And as you know, food marketing to children is anything but that today.
Finally, most of us have seen little free library boxes: boxes where people can take a book and leave a book to read. There are similar food boxes around our community — some are called Blessing Boxes others are called Supply Outpost and some don’t have a name.
They almost all have a sign that says “take what you need, leave some for others, give back when you can.” Several people have asked me about this kindness. If you have information about where they are located, how they are built or stocked, or other information, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org