There has been an "ah ha" moment for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. As the name implies, one of the main missions is providing health care to the medically indigent, which includes a swelling number of diabetic and pre-diabetic patients.
Another main mission is a community pantry that last year provided nutrition to about 80,000 people. Now those dual purposes have produced a new "wish list" for healthier food donations. "It was something that should have hit us like a ton of bricks before," executive director Beth Houghton admitted to FOX 13 News Thursday. "We get whatever people give us and we're grateful for that, and that's what we pass on."
But even a cursory glance at the foodstuffs on hand reveals the highly processed, high sugar and high salt products that fill American supermarkets. The non-profit has posted alternative suggestions on its website.
"It struck us that folks who give us food want to give us the right thing," Houghton explained. "They'll give us whatever they'll give us and we're grateful for that, but we can put our wish list out there and be clearer about what things are healthier for the people we serve."
The list is filled with the same suggestions seen elsewhere with increasing frequency: canned fruit packed in juice, not syrup, canned tuna and chicken packed in water, whole grain breads and pastas and low or reduced sodium peanut butter, beans, soups and stews. The St. Petersburg Free Clinic also has a community kitchen that serves meals six nights a week.
Adjustments have also been made to its offerings. "Around the country you're seeing more of this kind of recognition that what we eat affects our health and that we need to connect the two," Houghton said.
For more information, head to stpetersburgfreeclinic.org.