by Jusleen Basra
Hunger in America is skyrocketing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With nearly 1 in 4 children and up to 54 million people experiencing food insecurity, more Americans need support than ever before. While it may seem like a large task, WhyHunger believes that nutritious food is a basic human right and hunger is solvable with the help and support of our communities.
You and your family have the power to make an impact on the lives of your neighbors who may be struggling to provide for their loved ones this holiday season and year-round. Below are just a few ways that together – whether they are 5 years old or 50 – you can help tackle hunger at the root and provide support to those who need it more than ever!
Start by reaching out to your local food pantry, soup kitchen, or community garden to find out how you can be helpful to them. Food pantries often need volunteers to help them pack lunches, serve meals, clean dishes, or prepare food. Due to the varying conditions of the pandemic, opportunities to serve in person may be limited or different this year, but most locations will have sound social distance and safety protocols established to keep you and your family healthy while you are volunteering your time. Some food banks or pantries may allow you to prepare sandwiches from home and drop and them off on site as well. You can also choose to volunteer at a community garden and help with seasonal upkeep preparing garden beds, planting seeds and harvesting produce over the course of the year.
Lending a hand at a local food provider or community garden is a great way for you and your children to learn something new while giving back. If you need help locating food providers near you, visit our Find Food database.
Once you are in contact with your local food pantry, don’t be afraid to get creative and take the lead. Find out what items your local food bank and pantries are most in need of and organize a food drive at your child’s school or club to collect quality, nutritious items that you can donate. Let your kids write notes or draw pictures to send along with the food so they can let the staff and volunteers know that they have your support.
You can also set up a donation jar in your house or host a virtual fundraiser via Facebook to raise money for a local food provider. You and your family can host a virtual talent show, cooking lesson, or even a Netflix watch party. Don’t be afraid to turn your birthday or a holiday into a moment to give back! Ask relatives to donate to a local food provider on your behalf rather than a traditional birthday gift this year.
Taking initiative is not only a great way to get your children and family actively involved and invested in a great cause, but it will help build awareness among members of your community of the issues that many of your own neighbors may be facing. Community-led action and organization is truly an effective way to make a difference – as a member of your own community, you have the most power to support those around you.
As simple as it may sound, one of the most impactful things you and your family can do to support food security in the long term is to talk more about it! Having open, honest, and authentic discussions about the current state of hunger in the country and in the world will prepare you with the knowledge needed to make long-lasting change. You can start by asking some of these questions:
- Why does hunger exist?
- Why are some people hungry and not others?
- Who is most affected by hunger in America? How about the world?
- Are there any other world issues you can think of that relate to hunger?
You can also watch documentaries and short films, listen to podcasts and read books to get a conversation started on the causes of hunger and poverty and how to move forward. Visit our Just the Facts page for some helpful info on hunger and poverty in both the United States and the world, or learn what happens If you give someone a fish by watching this video with your family. If you are an educator, Kids Can Make a Difference has created lesson plans to help you keep your students engaged!
As we move through the remainder of the pandemic, we hope that you and your families stay safe and healthy, and that you are able to find ways to give back together! Have a great idea about getting involved as a family? Comment below!