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Choose This, Not That: Healthy Food Ideas for Families

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Public food assistance programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) or Pennslyvania’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are designed to ensure low-income families have continuous access to nutritious meals. While these programs can be a lifeline to families in crisis, they come with guidelines that steer families toward healthier choices so they are receiving critical nutrients and staying fuller longer. In fact, certain products are not eligible for purchase under the programs. Here are a few rules of thumb to help families make smart choices at the grocery store: 

Everyday sandwich bread

  • Choose This: Whole wheat bread or corn tortillas.
  • Not That: White bread.

Breakfast drink

  • Choose This: Frozen, canned, or fresh fruit juice.
  • Not That: Products labeled “Fruit Drink” and that do not state 100% juice.

Morning protein

  • Choose this: White eggs or yogurt cup
  • Not That: Powdered or specialty eggs or drinkable yogurts.

Warm supper

  • Choose This: Lentils with vegetables.
  • Not That: Canned soup.

Hearty side dish

  • Choose This: Dry or canned black beans and brown rice.
  • Not That: Boxed vegetable-grain (pasta or rice) mixtures.

On the Go Weeknight Dinner

  • Choose This: Frozen entrées such as lasagna.
  • Not That: Foods that are hot at the point of sale.

After School Snack

  • Choose This: Banana and peanut butter.
  • Not That: Sports drink or trail mix.

Learn More about Food Assistance for Pennsylvania Families in Need

To learn about eligibility and how to enroll in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, visit PA Department of Health. To learn about eligibility and how to enroll in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) visit the PA Department of Human Services. 

For residents outside of Pennsylvania, visit https://www.usa.gov/food-help.

About JFCS Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill Food Pantry

The Squirrel Hill Food Pantry has been a cornerstone of Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) Pittsburgh since 1999. It offers nutritious, fresh food for neighbors meeting income eligibility requirements in the 15217 zip code as well as kosher food for families who live in the Southwest PA region. For more information, visit www.jfcspgh.org/squirrel-hill-food-pantry or call (412) 421-2708.