To ensure the nutritional quality of the food items we distribute to children in our community, all purchased and donated food is reviewed to ensure it follows our nutrition guidelines. We think this is a very important step to take in order to stay true to our mission of providing direct access to healthy and nutritious food to local children.
After much research, we decided to implement limits on the amount of added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium in the non-perishable food items we deliver to children weekly. While there is no perfect system, we feel these guidelines help improve the overall quality of the food we distribute, while also encouraging individuals and groups who donate food to TABLE to collect foods they would want their children to be eating. This is one small process that can help impact the overall health of many children in Orange County.
Sharing these nutrition guidelines is also a great opportunity for us to help educate the public on how to read a nutrition label. All volunteers who join TABLE for a food sorting shift will be able to practice their skills and become masters at reading nutrition labels. If you’ve been wanting to volunteer with your kids, this could be a fun shift where you can learn a new skill together and gain better insight into what is in your food .
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest individuals “Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.” Based on this, TABLE implements the following limits on non-perishable items we distribute:
- 7g or less of added sugar per serving
- 600mg or less of sodium per serving
- 4g or less of saturated fat per serving
Reading a nutrition label begins at the very top where we find information about servings. Don’t be fooled and assume there is only 1 serving in each container! “Servings per container” indicates how many portions of the “Serving Size” are in each package. In this example, there are 8 total ⅔ cup portions. This means the entire package contains 5 ⅓ cups.
Saturated fat raises the levels of LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol in your blood and increases your risk for heart disease. “Saturated Fat” can be found right under “Total Fat” on the nutrition label. In this example, there is 1g of saturated fat per ⅔ cup. This item would be within TABLE’s limit of saturated fat!
Excessive sodium intake increases blood pressure and also increases risk of heart disease. Did you know the average American consumes 3,400mg of sodium per day? It is recommended that individuals eat less than 2,300 mg per day, which is equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt. In this example, 1 serving contains 160mg of sodium, therefore, would pass the test for TABLE’s sodium limit.
Consuming too many added sugars in your diet can lead to weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Added sugars are defined as any type of sugar that is added to a food item and does not include naturally occuring sugars, such as those from fruit or dairy milk. The “Added Sugars” line can usually be found under “Total Sugars” on the nutrition label. This particular food item contains 10g of added sugar per ⅔ cup serving so if would NOT pass our limit for added sugars. TABLE would then not distribute this food item to our children, but rather, would send it to another local nonprofit group that will be able to use it!
At the heart of our mission at TABLE is to provide healthy food to the children in our community that need it most. We hope these guidelines will bring us one step closer to improving the overall health of children in Orange County!