Food for Thought Blog

What is in a Hamper: Canada’s Food Guide Edition

February 10th, 2021Food

We recently shared a post about Canada’s Food Guide and how it can be a great tool to help you create healthy meals.

For people accessing food assistance it can be difficult to meet the recommendations set out in Canada’s Food Guide.

In Waterloo Region, 230 food hampers are distributed every day – by the Community Food Assistance Network – which includes a mix of fresh, frozen, and canned food items. We annually review our food hampers to ensure they align with Canada’s Food Guide, so everyone in our community has access to healthy food and a balanced diet

Below are some common items you may find in one of our food hampers. Check out each section to learn more about how to maximize your intake from each food group and ways you can create your version of a healthy plate.

Fruits & vegetables

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that half of your plate be fruit and vegetables, but they do not need to only be fresh. Fruits and vegetables that are canned or frozen are just as nutritious and can be more versatile as they are often less expensive and do not spoil as quickly. Try adding them to soups, smoothies, casseroles, baked goods, or even just as a side dish when creating meals. Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that may be found in a food hamper: 

  • Potatoes
  • Microgreens
  • Canned pineapple
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Yellow Onions
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Canned Peaches
  • Tomato Sauce


Whole grain products are higher in nutrients such as iron, B-vitamins, and fibre. As you aim to make ¼ of your plate grain products, try to choose whole grains as often as you can to increase your intake of these nutrients. Simple switches such as whole grain bread or pasta, when they are available, is an easy way to increase your intake of whole grains. Below is a list of whole grains that may be found in a food hamper:

  • Pancake mix
  • Crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Oatmeal


Mixing up your sources of protein is a great way to maximize your intake of different nutrients. Plant-based proteins such as beans and nuts are not only cost effective but also are high in fibre and low in saturated fat. On the other hand, animal sources of protein, such as meat, dairy and eggs, can be higher in nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, and omega 3 (DHA). When the choice is available, try to include a variety of sources of protein to incorporate a range of nutrients into your diet. Below is a list of proteins that may be found in a food hamper:

  • Canned beans
  • Canned tuna
  • Peanut butter
  • Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Ground beef
  • Yogurt
  • Milk

There are many ways to create a healthy plate. If you are looking for some creative recipes that use foods commonly found in a food hamper, check out these recipes for some inspiration by clicking on the image to download it:

Breakfast Bake

Butternut Squash Fries

Creamy Tuna Pasta

Make Your Own Burrito Bowls