Oldways marks Whole Grains Month by gathering donations from members to combat food insecurity

Oldways marks Whole Grains Month with donations for food insecurity

To raise awareness of the risks of food insecurity and the ability of whole grains’ to help fill bellies and nutrient gaps, the Oldways Whole Grains Council is coordinating a massive donation of whole grain foods to a winning charity of its Good Grains for a Good Cause lottery.  

“Food insecurity is an economic and social condition … the root cause of which oftentimes is economic, because some families don’t earn enough to ensure adequate access to food, or they don’t have reliable transportation to the grocery store or don’t have a working kitchen at their house – all of which can make eating, let alone eating healthy, more challenging,” said Kelly Toups, Oldways director of nutrition for the Whole Grains Council

She added that “eating healthy is important for everyone, but you know it is just especially important for populations whose financial situation might prevent them from getting all the medical care they need.”

In addition, she noted that whole grains not only help people feel more full than some refined grains, “but they also are a great way to stretch small amounts of meat or vegetables into kind of a cohesive balanced meal.”

She explained to FoodNavigator-USA that Oldways wanted to help ease food insecurity, while also promoting the value of whole grains for all people, by asking consumers to nominate on its website a favorite food bank or other charity that addresses food insecurity to potentially receive products donated from its member companies.

The winner will be selected randomly at the end of the month and will receive cases of product donated from Back to Nature, Barbara’s Bakery, Bob’s Red Mill, Catallia Mexican Foods, Dr. Kracker, Freekehlicious, Grainful, Hathor Do Brasil (Granó), Hodgson Mill, InHarvest, Kellogg’s, Lotus Foods, Lundberg Family Farms, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Ozery Bakery/Pita Break, Palouse Brand and Popsalot.

So far 59 cases of product have been donated by member companies – far more than the 40 cases donated the first time the organization hosted the Good Grains for a Good Cause in 2013, said Toups. But she is hopeful more member companies will come forward to donate even more before the end of the month.

While the contest will generate positive social buzz for whole grains and the donating member companies, it is not only one way that Oldways is marking September as Whole Grains Month, Toups said.

The contest is only one way that Oldways is celebrating Whole Grains Month this September, Toups added.

The organization also created a 10 question quiz about whole grains facts that is easy to share on social media and a great tool for letting people know about less obvious grains, such as teff and amaranth as well as the value well recognized favorites, like barley.

Beyond the efforts of Oldways, manufacturers also are stepping up to make whole grains more convenient and less intimidating for consumers by packaging them in pre-cooked and single-serve containers that simply need to be reheated.

To continue to build on the momentum of the contest and other outreach effort this month, the Whole Grains Council plans to release a research paper later this year on the health benefits of whole grains. It will pull together the findings of more than 100 studies on whole grains published in the past five years, Toups said.

The organization also is creating a four-week menu plan book that will show consumers how to incorporate whole grains into each meal and snack over the course of a month – at which point the decision to reach for whole grains will be better ingrained in consumers, Toups said. 

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