Healthy Food Drive Donation Tips

Holiday Season

By donating healthier foods, you’re doing much more than filling stomachs. You’re helping improve school performance, boost energy levels, strengthen immune systems and lower risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Rule of thumb: Donate healthy whole foods, full of the key nutrients kids and families need. Nix processed foods, which are loaded with fat, sugar and sodium (salt), such as sugary cereals, cookies and sugary beverages.


Whole fruit items are preferred over items in 100 percent fruit juice.

  • Applesauce (no sugar added)
  • Dried fruit (no sugar added), raisins
  • Fruit cups and canned fruit in water or 100 percent fruit juice
  • Fresh fruits


When searching for vegetables, look for items with low sodium or no salt added.

  • Canned vegetables 
  • Canned tomato products 
  • Canned white or sweet potatoes (no sugar added) 
  • Pasta sauce, salsa 
  • Fresh vegetables


Choose plain over sweetened varieties such as chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. They provide extra sugar.

  • Low-fat or nonfat powdered milk
  • Plain/unsweetened shelf-stable, low-fat/nonfat milk
  • Plain soy, almond or rice milk (fortified with calcium and vitamin D)
  • Fat-free/low-fat canned evaporated milk


Check your expiration dates; don't donate foods that have passed their "use by" expiration dates.

  • Canned or pouched poultry and/or fish (in water, low sodium)
  • Canned/dried beans or peas (low sodium/no salt added)
  • Canned or pouched chili, beef stew or bean soup (low or reduced sodium)
  • Peanut butter (no hydrogenated oils)
  • Nuts and seeds


When selecting cereal, look for brands with 6 grams of sugar or less. Other grains to look for:

  • Plain brown or wild rice
  • Quinoa and whole grain couscous
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole grain, low sugar cereal (e.g., plain toasted oats)
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Crunchy granola bars (no candy or chocolate)
  • Whole grain crackers  


Make sure your spices are in plastic containers. Food drives do not accept items in glass containers.

  • Canola, olive or other vegetable oils
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • Chili powder, pepper, sage
  • Garlic and onion powder (salt-free)
  • Dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary)
  • Low-sodium broth/stock
  • Bottled water (flat or seltzer)