On Nutrition: Gifts that keep giving

According to a Gallup poll, we Americans expect to spend an average of $932 on Christmas gifts this year. First, I like practical gifts. (My daughter was thrilled last year when I told her I needed a new crock pot.)

While browsing through the pile of catalogs that came to our mailbox this year, a few caught my attention. Gifts from these establishments will literally keep the recipient afloat long after the holiday is over.

Heifer International (heifer.org) reminded that many children around the world desperately need more than just toys and games. Meanwhile, a heifer is a young female cow that has not yet given birth. The organization provides food in the form of animals and other agricultural products to families struggling in rural areas around the world.

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For example, a single dairy cow produces more than four gallons of milk per day. In addition to feeding children and families, income can be generated by converting it into cheese or yoghurt and selling it. And each year a cow can produce a calf to feed more people in a community.

“Our most pressing need right now is food,” says the Vision Trust (visiontrust.org), which serves children and families in the world’s poorest countries. Children in this program receive a nutritious meal when they go to school, which relieves families of the burden of feeding their children. Well-nourished children can grow and learn better. And a child can be looked after for a month for about the price of a casserole.

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World Vision (worldvisiongifts.org) takes our monetary gifts and transfers them to a constant source of food for hungry children and families. Chicken and duck eggs, for example, are packed with life-sustaining protein and other nutrients. Goats, sheep and dairy cows provide nutritious milk, cheese and yogurt. Clean water and fruit trees are also on the shopping list through this program.

At the local level, I have a personal tradition that brings me joy at this time of year. Whenever I see a red teapot being stolen by a Salvation Army volunteer, I rummage through my purse to throw in some money. Just this year, I learned that all donations stay within the community to which they are given. So it’s a great way to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

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I’m taking my grandchildren to our local hardware store’s Angel Tree this week. Another Salvation Army project that allows us to “adopt” children in our community with the gifts they want and need for Christmas.

Let’s not forget that when we help feed others, we also feed our own hearts. That’s the true meaning of this season.

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and syndicated columnist. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating” she. Email him at [email protected] This column was provided by the Tribune News Service.

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