Andy Warhol's "100 Cans" painting

Donating canned and other non-perishable foods is an easy way to help your community.

The month of February is National Canned Food Month! So, why canned food? Well, I don’t know about you, but when I think of canned food I think of the mushy peas and creamed corn my grandparents used to make me eat. But, it turns out that canned food is much more than that; they are also a donation staple for food shelves.

Canned foods are often inexpensive and have a very long shelf-life, which makes it perfect to donate. Canned food remains safe if the container remains intact, regardless of the expiration date.

Canned foods are also surprisingly nutritious.

“Canned foods – and dishes made with canned ingredients – are nutritionally similar to cooked fresh, according to research, and perhaps more so if fresh foods aren’t handled properly,” according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Canned fruits and vegetables can be great sides and can be added to salad, soups, pasta and even pizza.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics site also said that are also “convenient, portable, quick.” Canned foods already cooked, often only needing to be heated, which means they’re quick and easy for a meal on the go.

Since these foods are surprisingly healthy and long lasting, it’s a great idea to donate them. Food shelves throughout Minnesota are struggling to serve their communities’ needs as hunger has doubled over the last five years. In 2012, Winona area food shelves had 28,273 visits.

The  Winona Volunteer Services’ Supplemental Food Shelf is one place that supplies food to “residents with limited resources” and is always in need of donations of food, money and time. This month, consider what you can give to help make your community more full and satisfied.