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We get this question a lot - and it's an excellent question! We put a lot of thought into what food we provide and below is some detail.

Food swamps:

Many of the children we reach live in areas with poor access to food, commonly called "food deserts". We prefer to call these areas "food swamps", since there actually is access to food, but it is very unhealthy food, such as the kind one might find at a typical gas station.

We don't think kids can grow in a healthy way if they only have gas station food at home.

Food quality:

The Sheridan Story's leadership and staff are committed to implementing our program in a way that retains dignity for our kids and families. While this manifests itself in many ways, one is in the type of food we provide.

We do not think our kids and families should receive the back-of-the-truck, leftover food items that no one wants. We provide our kids and families with food that is high-quality, not near expiring, and isn't "weird". 

While we do receive food from food drives, we sort that food thoroughly and only use items that fit our specific criterion (all food items donated are either used by The Sheridan Story or provided to a local food shelf for their use). Almost all of our food is purchased in bulk from reputable food banks, wholesalers, and manufacturers, all of whom have significant food safety and quality measures in place.

While this approach increases the cost of food for our program, as low-quality food is less expensive, we are persistent in our practice of providing high-quality food to our kids and families.

Substantive, nutritious food:

From our research with families, schools, and child nutritionists, The Sheridan Story has determined that providing healthy, substantive food - not snack food - is the best way we can support our kids and families.

To select healthy items for our food bags, we've consulted with dietitians/nutritionists through Allina Health and Saint Paul Public Schools. As we mentioned, our bags focus on substantive meals, not snacks, and we don't distribute items low in nutrition. For example, ramen noodle packets are excluded, as they are high in sodium and contain little nutrition. 

Feedback from our families confirm that they prefer meal-food (like what we provide) instead of snack-food.

Amount of food:

Our bags are filled with 4 - 5 pounds, which is the weight we have determined our kids can consistently carry safely, of substantive and nutritious shelf-stable food.

Specific food items:

Each of our bags of food contains fruit and vegetables and provides nutritious, substantive meals for kids to eat at home. A sample bag from our inventory includes the following items: a can of pears, a bag of rice, a can of green beans, a can of chunk chicken, and a can of chicken noodle soup.

Below is a breakdown of the categories of food we use in our bags:

  • Canned Protein: Chunk Chicken, Tuna, beans, etc
  • Canned Fruit: Pears, Peaches, Applesauce, etc
  • Canned Vegetable: Green Beans, Peas, Carrots, Mixed Veggies, etc
  • Canned: Soup, Stew, Chili, Ravioli
  • Boxed or Bagged Base: Pasta, Rice, Beans (ex. pinto beans), Oatmeal