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Donating food? St. Joe’s lists the healthiest you can give

With the holiday season and annual food drives just around the corner, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS)  is working to increase awareness around the need to provide healthier food options when it comes to food donations.

“Access to healthy food is a key component to good health,” said Rob Casalou, regional president and CEO, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. “As a Catholic health system serving southeast Michigan, it’s our mission to help those in need and improve the health of our community.  A big thank you goes to everyone who so generously donates food to their local food drive and remember: giving food is good; giving healthy food is even better.”

This year, SJMHS has launched its wellness initiative “Join Me” to start a conversation with local residents on how to improve the health and wellness of local communities.  Access to healthy foods—including food given to those in need through food banks and food pantries– was one of the very things that people in the community said was important to them.

“This message to consider healthy foods when donating sprang from St Joe’s ongoing Join Me campaign– an effort to get our entire region to a healthier place,” said Health Reporter Lila Lazarus, partner in St. Joe’s Join Me campaign.  “The hope is we can fight hunger, while still promoting health.”

St. Joe’s is participating in the Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign of the Food Bank Council of Michigan and encouraging employees and visitors to donate healthy food.   SJMHS will be working with its employees, parish nurses, local food banks and others in the community to spread the word to “think healthy” when donating food items.

“With more than 1.7 million people in Michigan relying on food banks—many of them children and the elderly who are at greater risk for health issues–providing nutritious foods could really improve the health of our state,” said Dr. Phillip Knight, executive director, Food Bank Council of Michigan.  “Michigan food banks are committed to the nutrition of the clients we serve. Receiving donations of healthy food honors our work, and the dignity of those we serve.”

Top healthy foods requested by food banks in Michigan:

  • Baby food and baby formula
  • Canned beans: kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpeas, pork & beans, refried
  • Canned fruit or vegetables: low- or no added salt or sugar
  • Cereal, no added sugar
  • Fruit juice, 100% real juice (canned or boxed)
  • Instant oats
  • Jerky: turkey, beef
  • Meals, boxed: complete dinners, helper & pasta meals with lower sodium, healthy fats and higher protein
  • Meats and fish, canned: beef stew, chili, hash, salmon, tuna
  • Oil, vegetable or olive (bottled)
  • Pasta, legumes, lentils, quinoa, millet, (100% whole grain preferred)
  • Peanut butter, nut butters (all natural variety)
  • Potatoes, instant
  • Protein bars (at least 6 grams of protein per bar)
  • Rice: brown, wild
  • Snack Items: 100% whole fruit snacks, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, granola, popcorn
  • Soup, canned and boxed: low- or no added salt
  • Staples: flour, spices
  • Tomato products: canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
  • Whole grain crackers and rice cakes
  • 100% whole grain breads

If fresh food is accepted:

  • Dairy, including low fat or fat-free, vitamin D fortified milk, yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs
  • Lean meats including chicken, turkey, red meat such as sirloin, tenderloin, round, chuck 90% or higher ground beef; limit/avoid additives and preservatives

    To learn more about St. Joe’s Join Me initiative, please visit http://www.stjoeshealth.org/joinme.

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