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New Guidelines Help Food Retailers Increase Healthy Donations

Center for Science in the Public Interest provides tips on giving more nutritious items to charitable organizations
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
New Guidelines Help Food Retailers Increase Healthy Donations
CSPI's guidelines encourage donors to increase nutritious donations and decrease donations of less healthy items, particularly candy, soda and desserts.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released "Healthier Food Donation Guidelines for Retailers and Distributorsto help these businesses donate more nutritious foods and beverages to food banks, food pantries and other charitable food system organizations.

Nutritious donations are more important than ever. According to Feeding America, 60 million people turned to the charitable food system to help feed their families in 2020. Further, a national survey published in the Preventing Chronic Disease electronic journal, a National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion publication, showed that 85% of the people accessing food pantries said it was important to have fresh fruits and vegetables available there.

CSPI’s resource emphasizes that food donations should be nutritious, fresh and culturally relevant. It details how healthier food and beverage donations benefit retailers and distributors, highlighting the social impact — such as supporting public health — and financial benefits — such as cost saving — that healthy donations have on businesses and communities.

The resource also provides practical tips on identifying and tracking items for donation by grocery store departments.

CSPI recommends that businesses set up internal goals and benchmarks to improve healthy donations, and invites retailers to work with the receiving organization to advance their goals.

Adapted to suit retailers' and distributors' needs, the guidelines are based on Healthy Eating Research’s Nutrition Guidelines for the Charitable Food System, which are geared toward food banks and endorsed by Feeding America. 

In addition to donating food from the store, grocers are using other means to provide nutritious foods to those in need. For example, Hannaford Supermarkets recently donated $350,000 to help expand gleaning efforts throughout New England and New York. The donation will support the work of gleaning networks and organizations to harvest and recover excess produce from local farms that would otherwise go to waste, delivering the produce directly to food pantries.

CSPI is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit watchdog and consumer advocacy group that advocates for safer and healthier foods. The organization aims to transform the built food environment through policy innovations grounded in meticulous research and advocacy at the national, state and local level.

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