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Cart Smarts: 4 ways you can help fight hunger at home

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We just finished up a weeklong community food drive here at the grocery store. The timing was perfect, as September is designated as Hunger Action Month.

The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness and encourage everyone to take action on the issue of hunger. I found the food drive to be incredibly inspiring as I watched the bins fill up with bags of food during the week, and the more I researched hunger in our community, the more my eyes were opened.

One in 10 Minnesotans doesn't have enough to eat, and one in five of these is a child.

According to Channel One, there are more than 100,000 neighbors in our 14-county region who are needy. Hunger is not isolated to third world countries — it affects us here in Minnesota, too.

As a registered dietitian, I truly understand the implications of hunger and malnutrition and, because of this, I am motivated to make a difference. If you feel the same way, here are some ideas of ways to get involved:

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Donate food.The most needed foods are: proteins (canned meats, peanut butter, beans), fruits and vegetables (fresh and canned), complete meals, grains (rice and pasta), cooking basics (sugar, oil, flour) and special dietary foods (low-sodium, gluten-free).

Donate money.It goes a long way; one dollar can buy four meals. Plus, cash gifts allow the food bank to purchase items they don't typically receive as donations, such as meat and dairy products. In fact, milk is one of the most-requested, yet least-donated items at many food banks. On average, clients receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year.

Volunteer your time.Gather your friends and family and request a time to volunteer at Channel One or Community Food Response in Rochester. Spend time with those you love and help our hungry neighbors at the same time.

Advocate.Spread the word about Hunger Action Month through daily conversations as well as social media. Encourage others to join you in the fight against hunger.

I hate to admit it, but it's easy to take things for granted. My entire career revolves around good nutrition and grocery shopping, so it's easy for me to forget those people who might be experiencing stress and anxiety over the very act of visiting the grocery store.

According to Channel One, one in 10 Minnesotans runs out of food resources before the end of the month. So, next time you're here to get your groceries for the week, take a moment to remember how lucky you are, and then add some extra food to your cart and donate it to those who need it.

Related Topics: FOOD
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