When shopping for food banks, think nutrition

Let's be clear up front: Food banks appreciate every bit and type of food that is donated.

But since this is the time of year for food drives and donation pleas, it's a good time to consider making smart choices when you shop for the hungry.

That means adding protein- rich foods such as beans or canned meat and fish to the bag you are dropping off for your local food bank.

"Any of the dried beans and peas are powerhouses for nutrition," said Rebecca Gilliam Wrenn, a registered and licensed dietitian with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

She also suggested including canned fruits, which most people will eat and which are easy to chew, along with canned soups, tomatoes and other vegetables.

"If you get noodles of some sort and a cream-of-something soup, you can take any kind of meat - chicken, tuna, hamburger - and make a casserole that will go a long, long way," Gilliam Wrenn said.

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