The holiday season is a time of generosity and giving when many people donate their time and resources to help feed the hungry. During these last few weeks, communities across the country will organize food drives and volunteer at their local food pantries and soup kitchens. These are good entry points for people looking to make a difference, but in order to create lasting change, we need to further the conversation and advocate for solutions that address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Here are our top ten ways to help end hunger this holiday season:
1. Power up your food drive.
Emergency food providers (food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens) can purchase and acquire food in bulk, which means that a dollar donated can go many times farther than a dollar spent on cans for a food drive. Cash donations also help pay the important but often overlooked overhead costs of running a food pantry or soup kitchen, such as transportation or utilities.
Still want to hold a food drive? Ask people to match each food item they donate with a dollar, or host a healthy food drive. Many people who depend on food pantries and soup kitchens have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, so to maintain health, they need foods that are low in sugar, fat and salt. Take a look at SuperFood Drive’s materials for hosting a healthy food drive, and be sure to ask the food pantry or soup kitchen what types of food or supplies they need the most. You won’t know until you ask, and you may be surprised.
2. Advocate for federal nutrition programs.
About one in four Americans depends on USDA food and nutrition assistance programs to help feed themselves and their families. These programs, such as SNAP, WIC and public school breakfast and lunch provide over 20 times more food than food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens do, which is why it is so important to advocate for government policies that help hungry people, especially as Congress considers deep cuts to these programs.
3. Volunteer in February.
Many people like to volunteer on Thanksgiving or Christmas because it feels good to help people in need, but food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens need dedicated volunteers year-round. Start a new tradition and sign up to help on a different day, like Arbor Day, or your birthday.
Many emergency food providers are in need of volunteers with specialized skills, such as accounting, social media or website design. If you have something unique to offer, talk to the organization to see how you can get involved.
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