Harvest for the Hungry will kick off its annual food drive this week with an emphasis on collecting healthy food donations.
The organization's 26th annual food drive will run March 3 through 10.
This year the group is partnering with United Way of Central Maryland's Access to Healthy Food Initiative, which aims to expand healthful food options for low-income people in Central Maryland by at least 1.5 million pounds a year.
The focus on more nutritious foods comes as health officials across the country are fighting an obesity epidemic. First lady Michelle Obama has made fighting childhood obesity her main platform. Baltimore health officials have launched an initiative to improve food options at the city's open markets.
Low-income people who don't overeat can suffer from weight problems because their food is high in carbohydrates, sugar and fat, health officials say. Poor nutrition contributes to a wide range of health problems including, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. It can also slow cognitive development and hinder the ability to learn.
Harvest for the Hungry is asking people to give healthy perishable items such as low sugar-canned fruit, low sodium canned meats, brown rice, whole grain pasta and low-salt pretzels. You can find a list of examples here.
Food can be dropped off at Safeway grocery stores and local Coldwell Banker offices. You can also leave them by your door for the mail carrier to pick up.