SEATTLE, November 6, 2023 – During the season of giving, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, is encouraging companies and community organizations to host holiday food drives that prioritize collection of healthier and culturally relevant options over items with low nutritional value. Nearly one in three households in Washington face food insecurity and of those, 60 percent have children in the home. Many of these families turn to food banks and pantries to fill gaps. Ensuring the shelves are stocked with high nutrition items, like whole grain pasta and cereals, lean proteins, brown rice and canned goods that are low in sodium and added sugars, enables everyone to maintain health goals.
The American Heart Association through the support of Delta Dental of Washington, the Puget Sound Energy Foundation and Radiant, have developed a toolkit to support heart healthy food drives. The kit contains guidance on why this is important, choosing an appropriate organization, how to reach out and determine items most in need, items to suggest for donations and food drive best practices.
“We designed the kit to really support organizations who want to do something impactful in the community, while taking time to reflect on how donors can be most useful,” said Cherish Hart, vice president of community impact, American Heart Association, Washington. “When collecting food items, it’s important to look beyond the traditional holiday foods and work with your chosen organization to learn how best to support their shoppers. Often a few questions can guide you to the most appropriate and culturally responsive items to request of donors.”
Food access organizations have a year-round need for healthier items and holiday food drives can make a real impact in filling shelves for holiday tables and beyond. Cash donations often have the greatest impact because they enable organization to buy in bulk and take advantage of offers made directly by vendors. “Cash is king. It helps food banks and pantries be nimble and purchase items not received through other donations,” adds Hart. “The American Heart Association works with several of our local food banks and pantries on nutrition policies that prioritize purchasing the most nutritive and relevant choices for the community they serve.”
A diet that lacks consistent access to nutritious foods can contribute to negative health outcomes, like chronic disease, tooth decay and poor mental health. “Ensuring our community has access to the foods that contribute to total health, which includes oral health, is critical,” said Diane Oakes, chief mission officer, Delta Dental of Washington. “Eating healthier meals is easier when families have nutritious foods to prepare. By adding a lens of health in your holiday efforts, you are supporting the entire community and giving families the options they deserve and desire.”
To learn more about the American Heart Association’s work to address nutrition insecurity in the Puget Sound, visit heart.org/PugetSound.
- Toolkit: Heart Healthy Food Drives
- News release: 10 features of a heart healthy eating pattern
- Heart.org article: Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children
- Infographic: Heart-Healthy Essentials for Meal Prep
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. In Washington, visit heart.org/PugetSound, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or X (formerly Twitter).
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 Drewnowski, Adam, Otten, Jennifer J., Lewis, Laura R., Collier, Sarah M., Sivaramakrishnan, Brinda, Rose, Chelsea M., Ismach, Alan, Nguyen, Esther, Buszkiewicz, James. “Food Security and Access Amid COVID-19: A Comprehensive Look at the Second Survey of Washington State Households, Research Brief 9” (July 2021). Washington State Food Security Survey. https://nutr.uw.edu/cphn/wafood/brief-9