Nutrition Guidelines

for Food Donations

Why Nutritious Food Matters

Lynnwood Food Bank has been concerned with food insecurity since our inception in 1978. However, since 2015 we have become increasingly more concerned with health disparities along socio-economic and racial lines. As a result, additional healthy options, education and programming have been implemented to better serve our community.

In addition to breaking down barriers to food access, we are committed to offering our participants choices that enable positive health outcomes, help prevent diet related chronic illnesses, and respect the cultural needs and dietary preferences of the communities we serve.

The Food Bank uses the Healthy Eating Research (HER) guidelines of ranking foods in the 1) Donate/ Choose Often (Green), 2) Donate/ Choose Sometimes (Yellow) 3) Donate/ Choose Rarely (Red) categories.

While we accept all donations, some options support this commitment to our participants more than others. Please use the following pages to guide your donation choices.

Thank you for supporting our participants' needs with a variety of foods to fit every customer.

Why Cultural Food Matters

At Lynnwood Food Bank we respect and celebrate all the cultures of our community and we recognize that food is culture. The City of Lynnwood is diverse, and that is reflected in our Food Bank community members. 

As we strive to increase healthy options for our community, it is part equity and inclusion and part our love for our community members that makes the issue of culturally traditional food relevant to our mission. 

As we work to increase healthy options it is also important to note that many cultural foods are healthy options. Although nutrition is science, food is personal and healthy eating is different for everyone. 

Sharing food with people that experience food insecurity is our commitment to our community. Providing healthy and culturally traditional foods with our multi-cultural community is our goal.

Cooking is the Healthy Choice

One of the best ways to eat healthy is to cook your own meals. Relying on fresh and whole grain ingredients rather than using processed, quick foods makes a difference in a person's health. This is how we provide support for healthy, home cooking: 

  • We ask our donors to support our customers by donating ingredients that allow our customers to cook meals for their family
  • We offer cooking demonstrations, both live and on video, that teach cooking skills and new recipes
  • We offer recipes that highlight affordable and healthy foods
  • We offer nutrition tips and handouts that provide information about how the foods we use affect our bodies and our health

Donate/ Choose Often

Pantry staples

  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain pastas Gluten free pastas Chickpea pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Other whole grains Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Shelf stable tofu
  • White rice
  • Oats
  • Breakfast items
  • Shelf stable non-dairy milk
  • Shelf stable milk Coffee & tea Vegetable based oils Vinegar
  • Nuts & Dried fruits Canned tomato sauce Canned fruit in 100% juice
  • Canned vegetables, low sodium
  • Canned soups, low sodium
  • Canned beans, low sodium
  • Canned meats, packed in water and low sodium
  • Nut butters
  • Misc. side dishes

fresh foods

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Fresh tofu
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Non-dairy milk

frozen foods

  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Halal meat
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen fruit
  • Plant based meats
  • Plant based meals

spices, condiments, and cooking/baking supplies

  • Cumin
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Chipotle peppers
  • Adobo sauce
  • Dried chili pepper pods
  • Masa flour
  • Corn flour
  • Black & white pepper
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cornstarch
  • Honey, Sugar, Stevia
  • Vanilla extract
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Fish sauce
  • Gochujang/ chili paste
  • Oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce, low sodium
  • Siracha
  • Sesame oil
  • Ginger powder
  • Seaweed
  • Soybean paste
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sesame seeds
  • Rice flour
  • Rice paper
  • Rice noodles
  • Curry powder
  • Turmeric
  • Tahini
  • Berbere
  • Cardamon
  • Fenugreek
  • Coriander
  • Chickpea flour
  • Teff
  • Ghee

Donate/ Choose Often


Single Serve Items for students /homeless

  • Protein bars
  • Granola bars
  • Cereal cups
  • Fruit snacks
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter packets
  • Dried fruits
  • Pop-top cans
  • Etc. 

Items for seniors

  • Nutritional shakes (Ensure, Boost, etc.)

Other items

  • Gluten free
  • Sugar free
  • Low sodium
  • Plant based

Baby Supplies

  • Diaper wipes
  • Formula
  • Baby food
  • Diapers, in particular size 4, 5, 6 and pull ups

Pet Supplies

  • Dry dog food
  • Wet dog food
  • Dry cat food
  • Wet cat food
  • Cat litter

Hygiene and Household Items

  • Feminine hygiene
  • Dental care items
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/ conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Body wash
  • Hand soap


  • Laundry supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Dishwashing supplies
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels

Donate/ Choose Rarely

why rarely?

Treats are great every now and then, but on a regular basis it is better to choose fresh fruit and other items that have lower sugar, lower carbohydrates, and lower sodium. 

Choose rarely

  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Pie
  • Candy
  • Chips
  • Instant ramen
  • Energy drinks

choose rarely

  • Soda, regular or diet
  • Canned fruit in heavy syrup
  • High sodium canned vegetables

support the health of our community

While we appreciate all donations, we'd like to discourage donations of these items as they provide little nutritional value and are high in saturated fat, added sugar and sodium which contributes to chronic disease. 

Thank you for supporting the health and nutrition of our community!

Recommended Consumption Guidelines

Bakery items

Coming Soon


Coming Soon

dairy & alternative dairy

Coming Soon

dry & canned goods

Coming Soon

Recommended Consumption Guidelines

Fresh produce

Coming Soon

meat and meat alternative

Coming Soon

prepared foods

Coming Soon

when in doubt

Coming Soon