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For many of us, the holidays are time to spend several hours in the kitchen cooking up a feast for family and friends. However, nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households experienced food insecurity in 2019. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.7 million U.S. households were food insecure at some point in 2019.
With COVID-19, putting food on the table is proving to be more difficult for many families. Millions of American are out of work and with school closures, many kids are not getting the meals that they need. And, it’s just not just in America. Hunger affects about 795 million people worldwide.
There are several organizations that are doing great work to help provide families with the food they need. Especially around the holidays, the need is great and these organizations need our support. The holidays are also a time for giving so I wanted to find out how I can personally help.
So today, I’m sharing with you 5 ways you can help the hungry during the holidays:
#1 Donate to Your Local Food Bank
One way to help is to donate money to your local food bank. Often people want to donate canned goods, but the best way to support the food bank is donating money. Instead of paying retail prices, they work with manufacturers, retailers and farmers to create more meals for your dollar. Obviously, your food donations are helpful but if you really want to make an impact, donating money is the most effective. You can also consider setting up an online fundraiser to benefit your food bank.
To find your local food bank, search here.
#2 Donate to an Organization that Helps Fight Hunger
There are so many organizations globally helping to fight hunger. I did some research and found a few amazing organizations that are helping to put food on people’s plates every day. Not only are these organizations distributing food, but some organizations like the World Central Kitchen are developing sustainable food systems training, providing food education and delivering solutions for food safety and sanitation.
Here are a few organizations you might consider donating to:
- Feeding America – The largest U.S. hunger-relief organization that works to help people struggling with food through donations and volunteers. They work with retailers, manufacturers and farmers to help provide food to those in need. They also work to reduce food waste across the country.
- Bread for the World – This faith-based organization is using the voice of the people to advocate against world hunger. The organization works with policymakers and it’s network to educate people about hunger and develop resources for those in need.
- Share Our Strength– Through campaigns like No Kid Hungry, this organization is in the fight to end childhood hunger. They also have programs that help low-income families learn to shop and cook healthy meals.
- World Central Kitchen– This organization’s mission is to create smart solutions to end hunger. They have developed emergency food relief responses, culinary training, food security and safety programs through locally led approaches all over the world.
- Meals on Wheels – This organization delivers meals to seniors who are unable to purchase or cook their own meals. Meals on Wheels has over 1 million volunteers across the U.S. and donations are used to provide meals to those seniors who are in need.
#3 Deliver a Meal
Maybe you personally know someone who is experiencing food insecurity. Maybe you know someone who has recently become unemployed, is currently suffering from a medical issue or is a senior who would love a hot meal for the holidays. Why not deliver a meal to them?
And, you don’t have to know someone or physically sit with someone to share a meal. You can do this by using services such as the Dirty Apron to purchase meals and they will deliver it to someone in need. Here are a few ideas for meals that are great to deliver.
#4 Volunteer at a Shelter, Food Bank or Local Garden
Most food banks, shelters and community gardens run on volunteers so they need all the help they can get. You can make volunteering a new family tradition during holidays. Check with your local food bank, shelter or community garden for opportunities. Many need help:
- Sorting and packing food
- Assisting with food distributions and stocking food pantries
- Delivering meals
- Setting up tables for meals
- Pulling weeds or planting in the community garden
- Spreading awareness online
#5 Educate & Advocate
I know for me when I started researching this issue, I was really not aware of the crisis and how many people it affects. I think we have become immune to the commercials and the requests to donate. And although there are some really amazing things happening to help end hunger, it’s just simply not enough. We are throwing away more food than we have ever in the past and yet, there are still people that go hungry everyday.
So I challenge you to learn more and become an advocate. Here are a few things you can do to learn more about the hunger crisis and how you can help during the holidays and year-round.
- Listen to this podcast from the NPR – A Crisis Within a Crisis: Food Insecurity and COVID-19
- Write a letter to Congress about SNAP benefits
- Listen to the Hacking Hunger podcast series put on by the World Food Program
- Talk to your kids about hunger – Feeding America has some resources to help teach kids about hunger and ways they can make a positive impact.
- Watch this Ted Talk on Ending Hunger Now
- Watch this Ted Talk on What We’re Getting Wrong in the Fight to End Hunger
- Share the Free Meals Finder – This tool helps anyone find free, healthy meals being served in their community.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. I hope that we can share and send meals during this difficult time for some families that may be experiencing food insecurity. If you have ways you have helped or any resources that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you!