5 Ways Americans Can Help Fight Hunger in Their Community
Hunger often goes unnoticed in our communities. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for our neighbors to experience food insecurity—and for us to be unaware of the struggles they’re facing.
Perhaps the youngster down the hall doesn’t eat breakfast, or the family living next door visits the food bank. It might be the elderly person living across the street from you that’s going without a meal some days. Whatever the scenario, hunger is rampant in America and the problem isn’t getting any better.
Many of us want to make a difference. If you want to know how to make a meaningful contribution to improve food security in your community, here are five actions you can take.
Donate to a food bank
This might the first thing that comes to mind when you think about making a difference, and it’s a good place to start. Food banks, community kitchens, and food pantries rely on donations of grocery staples to serve their clients.
Many grocery stores have donation boxes set up to encourage customers to buy and drop off a few non-perishable items when they shop. You could also bring donations directly to the charity or wait until they advertise a food drive.
Outside of donated non-perishable items, organizations feeding the hungry must purchase perishable food. This means they depend on cash contributions too. Money allows the food bank to save by buying in bulk. A regular monthly donation, even if it’s a few dollars, can have a real benefit.
Organize a food drive
Think about maximizing your food donations by organizing a food drive. This is another meaningful way to alleviate hunger in your community. You could do this on your own or you could involve neighbors and friends.
Perhaps you are part of an organization that can sponsor a food drive. Maybe you coach a soccer team, participate on the parent council at your child’s school, or are on the board of your local library. No matter what activity you’re involved with, see if you can leverage it to gather quantities of perishable products for nearby food charities. Chances are, you’ll find some like-minded individuals ready to get behind the cause.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
Volunteering your time is another impactful approach. Lend a hand to shop, cook, serve meals, or assist in some other way. Initiatives that feed hungry people function, for the most part, with a contingent of volunteers. These unpaid workers are the backbone of such charities.
All you need here is the commitment of some time. You might be available for a few hours a week or you could choose to provide support preparing and dishing out holiday meals. You’ll find that no effort is wasted in the fight against hunger.
Grow extra produce
Do you have a small garden where you grow produce for your family? If so, you know the advantage and pleasure of having plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet. People shopping at your local food pantry are no different. Everyone needs the same nutrients.
Food charities are typically challenged to offer fresh produce. This is where receiving donations from local gardeners can make all the difference. It doesn’t matter what particular produce you have on hand; all kinds are welcomed. You could even consider planting an extra row in your garden specifically for donations.
Offer your shopping and cooking skills
Managing meal planning on a restricted budget is difficult. Meal planning has to be done carefully, and shopping strategically is critical to stretch scarce grocery dollars. If you have some great food shopping tips or are skilled at using economical ingredients to make tasty and nutritious meals, you can use this knowledge to help those experiencing food insecurity. For example, you could volunteer with a center that services young adults who are living independently on a limited income or with an organization that assists young mothers in need of assistance.
Keep in mind that it may not be an obvious food-related charity where your skillset will be welcomed, so you may need to do some digging. Plus, if you’re passionate about sharing your know-how in this area, nothing is stopping you from making a few cold calls and pitching your ideas. Who knows? You could start something worthwhile.
Finally, make an effort to learn more about what food insecurity looks like close to home. This knowledge may inspire you to think of other ways to help.