Healthy Options for Holiday Food Drives

By Diana Lomont, Editorial Contributor

Holiday food drives across the region focus on helping to feed the 1 in 6 Central Floridians struggling with hunger at any given time. With healthier food options readily available in the supermarket, you can make even more of a positive impact this season by reading the labels when selecting food donations.

“We try very hard to ensure that the majority of the food we distribute is quality, nutritious food,” says Maureen Mikel, development manager at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Choosing low-salt and low-sugar products is a good way to be a more mindful food donor. Also, be sure the items you donate are not past their expiration dates. “We don’t accept expired foods or anything without nutrition information and a packaging date on the label,” says Mikel.

Foods to Donate

  • Canned fruits (packed in juice with no added sugar)
  • Canned vegetables (low sodium)
  • Canned beans and peas (black, red, pink, pinto, garbanzo, black-eyed peas, pigeon peas)
  • Holiday foods: canned ham, canned sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, boxed mashed potatoes, packaged gravy, wild rice
  • Pasta, crackers (whole grain), ready-to-eat cereal (low sugar/high fiber), oatmeal, macaroni and cheese
  • Canned chicken, tuna/salmon (packed in water), peanut butter
  • Nonfat dry milk, evaporated milk, soy milk
  • Canned beef stew, soup (reduced sodium), chili, spaghetti sauce
  • Nutritional drinks (such as Ensure, Boost)
  • Powdered infant milk or soy-based formulas (WIC-approved preferred)

Where to Give

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

411 Mercy Dr.

Orlando, FL 32805

Food drop-off hours:

Monday–Friday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Saturday: 9:30 am – 11:30 am; 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Visit for more ways to give.


Christian Service Center’s West Orange Family Life Center

300 W. Franklin St.

Ocoee, FL 34761

Food drop-off hours:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm; Wednesday: 9:00 am – 11:30 am

Reserve a Blue Bag for holiday giving; visit for information.


The Christian Sharing Center

600 N. Hwy. 17-92, Suite 158

Longwood, FL 32750

Food drop-off hours:

At the pantry: Monday–Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

At the Distribution Center: Saturday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Visit for more ways to give.

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