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Helping others eat healthy

SPRING VALLEY — It’s something about which Sandy Galetti has always worried.

Galetti, a volunteer at the Hall Township Food Pantry, would help patrons when they would come in to pick up food, and many of them had special dietary needs.

“One patron would ask me to read how much salt or sugar was in a product,” she said. “Another would say, ‘I’m looking for something with less salt.’”

Galetti, who is diabetic, was concerned, so she spoke with Jan Martin, director of the food pantry, about setting up a special section of the pantry with foods for those people. 

“I told her I thought it a grand idea — and it became a reality,” Martin said.

So last week Galetti went through all the donated food items, looking for items that were gluten-free, sugar-free, salt-free that could be included in the corner. Then Martin asked Galetti to go shopping with two donations received for the new section, and Galetti came back with a wide array of items such as wheat spaghetti, Simply Fruit for jams, and canned goods.

“Vegetables have a lot of salt, and the amount of salt in soup is just tremendous,” she said.

Martin said the new Healthy Eating Corner has been very well received.

“Last evening we had a patron nearly in tears of appreciation,” Martin said.

Martin said because of the rising cost of medications, many seniors are unable to stretch their money to purchase groceries. 

“For this reason, we have an increasing number of elderly patrons using our services,” she said. “Special foods tend to be a bit more costly, so seniors make do. However, now that we have a Healthy Eating Corner, they are able to receive the foods they need.” 

Galetti said she’s very happy about the new corner, and that it will fill an important need.

“We have a variety of people who come to the food pantry, old as well as young, who are concerned about their diets,” she said.

Galetti said everyone, whether they have a health issue or not, should read the labels on the products they buy to learn the amount of salt and sugar they contain.

“Everybody should be aware of their intake of salt and sugar,” she said. “Everyday.”

Both Martin and Galetti would like to see more people donate items that can be included in the Healthy Eating Corner.

“In fact, with February being Healthy Heart month nationwide, we invite and challenge groups to sponsor a Healthy Food Drive,” Martin said. “As we know more about the dietary needs in the area, we’re just being good stewards of our donations to be able to offer a Healthy Eating Corner.”

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