(NC) Good things can happen when you have the food you need to thrive. Jason and Jonah would be the first to tell you this. When an injury forced Jason off work several years ago, he struggled. As a single dad trying to feed his young son Jonah, Jason soon found himself at the doors of a local food bank—a critical resource where he received the food support they needed to help get through a rough patch.

Today, Jason and Jonah run a small print shop, and donate a portion of their profits to their local food bank. “Knowing that the work that I put in can help other kids and other families going through what we went through means a lot to me,” says Jonah.

Many of us include donating to our local food bank on our holiday to-do list. But you want to make sure you give items that are useful and in demand, so that they don’t go to waste. Here are some tips and ideas to consider.

1. Think about the nutritional value. People want healthy, nutritious food for themselves and their families. Thinking about donating cereal? Pick a low-sugar option. Pasta? Think whole grains. Soup? Find something with low sodium. Food is fuel and everyone deserves good fuel.

2. Helping new parents. Infant formula and baby food are always needed and go a long way to relieving the worry of parents struggling with food insecurity.

3. Protein, protein, protein! Protein is a staple for good health, but it can be expensive and hard to keep on the shelves at a food bank. That’s why it’s always on the list of most-needed food items. Think canned meat and fish, canned and dried legumes, ancient grains like quinoa, and peanut butter.

4. Think about your own family. It’s a simple concept, but an important one. Donate items that you’d be happy to feed yourself or your family. Think about what you like to eat when you sit down together at the table.

Keep these tips in mind when donating to your local food bank. Or make a financial contribution the next time you go shopping at your local grocery store – Real Canadian Superstore, Independent and other Loblaw grocery stores are collecting non-perishable food and financial donations until December 24th. Food items and financial contributions collected will go to local food banks and meal programs right in your community.