A Nutritious Essential Food Parcel
In true South African-style many organisations, together with the government, have rallied to provide food parcels during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dietitian Kelly Francis sheds light on what a nutritious essential food parcel looks like and how you can contribute.
An adequate intake of energy, protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals is essential for optimal health and in the case of children, optimal growth and development. The maintenance of optimal health also requires a strong immune system and while there is no one type of food or group of foods that can boost the immune system for the protection against contagious diseases, a varied diet, rich in fibre and nutrients is the best way to support the immune system when the need for fighting an illness arises. Good nutrition promotes healing and assists in the maintenance of lean body mass during illness recovery.
The average food parcel, is only designed to supplement the food intake of a household and falls short of adequate nutrient provision for a family or household of greater than 2 people.
Stretching these food parcels is therefore, unlikely to provide sufficient hunger relief, especially in the absence of the school feeding schemes which go a long way to supplement the food intake of South Africa’s vulnerable children.
The table below displays the nutrient information for a typical food parcel supplied to a family.
|Food Item||Energy (kJ)||Protein (g)||Carbohydrate (g)||Fat (g)|
|12.5 kg maize meal||172500||950||9250||62.5|
|5 kg rice||80454.5||409||4166.7||45.5|
|1.5 L oil (1.5 kg)||55500||0||0||1500|
|4 cans baked beans
|5 kg instant porridge||75650||305||3550||50|
|5 kg macaroni||70119||571.4||3178.6||83.3|
|5 sachets instant soup
|5 kg sugar||84900||0||4995||0|
|750 g powdered milk||13552.5||131.3||447||100.5|
|500 g soya mince||6479||255||100||10|
As South African citizens we are called to action to help close this gap.
The Ideal Food Parcel
With reference to the nutrient analysis of a typical food parcel, an ideal food parcel would include more non-perishable sources of protein and fibre-rich foods, both of which increase the feeling of fullness in addition to being nutrient-dense.
Therefore, when we make food donations to organisations or in-store trolley collections, we should steer away from the typical food choices that are already being supplied in food parcels.
Nutrient-Dense Food Donation Suggestions
- Tinned fish: pilchards, tuna canned in oil
- Fibre-rich staple grains: oats, barley, whole wheat samp
- Dried legumes: brown lentils, split red lentils, split peas, sugar beans, kidney beans, broad beans
- Tinned legumes: lentils, mixed beans
- Tinned vegetables: peas, corn, tomato and onion mix
- Fresh produce: butternut, gem squash, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges
- Other: long-life vegetable juice, peanut butter, raisins, popcorn, curry powder, herbs
While we are always called upon to support those in need, the increased hunger that South Africans are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown requires an extraordinary effort and out of the box food donations. Let’s come together and support those in need. These are some of the many organisations doing great work:
Kelly Francis earned her BSC Dietetics degree at UKZN. Kelly has been a Registered Dietitian in KZN for 10 years and has a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of nutrition-related diseases. Her special areas of interest include obesity, PCOS and diabetes in all its forms. She enjoys working with both children and adults, helping them to optimize their nutrient intake, for improved long term health. Kelly believes in meeting nutrient requirements with simple, economical and whole-food based meals, suitable for the whole family. She also enjoys getting involved in the menu planning at schools and other organizations.