In the United States, 34 million people, including 9 million children, struggle to get enough to eat. Food insecurity affects people living in every city and county in every state in the country. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can help fight food insecurity in your community. You can donate your time and money to local food banks and soup kitchens, organize a food drive to help feed the hungry, sponsor a needy family, drive for Meals on Wheels, or work with a mutual aid group to help members of your community obtain nutritious food and other resources.
Donate to Local Food Banks and Soup Kitchens
One of the best ways you can help eliminate hunger in your community is by donating healthy, non-perishable food to your local food bank or soup kitchen. Call your local organization to find out what they need. In addition to food items, they may need other supplies, like dishwashing liquid, garbage bags, or paper plates.
Don’t be too surprised if your local food bank or soup kitchen asks for cash donations instead of food or supplies. Often, these organizations can purchase food in bulk at a discount, so they’ll be able to get much more for your money than you would at the grocery store. If you grow a vegetable garden, contact your local food banks and soup kitchens early in the season to find out what fresh vegetables they may be able to take. Your surplus harvest can help feed your neighbors!
Organize a Food Drive at Your School, Church, or Job
Food drives are an important way for food pantries, soup kitchens, and other programs to get large amounts of food to meet the needs of the community. Contact your local food bank to find out what you can do to organize a food drive yourself. You can ask for food donations from people you work with, people at your church, or people at your school. You’ll need to organize people to collect, sort, and deliver the food. If you don’t want to spearhead your own food drive, contact local organizations to see if there are any ongoing food drives you can donate too. Food drives are common during the holiday season, but there are also food drives held throughout the year to supply food to needy children and families, such as through backpack food programs. Give additional support by buying from companies that work to feed hungry kids, such as General Mills.
Sponsor a Needy Family
Sponsoring a needy family involves making a monthly donation that is used to provide meals for a family struggling with food insecurity. A monthly contribution of just S36.50 to a charity like Family-to-Family, for example, can provide a needy family with an average of 15 meals per month. If your local area doesn’t have any family sponsorship programs, you can start one yourself. You can also donate toys for kids.
Drive for Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels delivers hot, nutritious meals to elderly people who struggle to access nutritious food. Usually, these elderly individuals are living alone and have trouble looking after themselves. You can volunteer to pick up hot meals and deliver them to program participants, usually at lunch time.
Work with a Mutual Aid Group
Mutual aid groups like Food Not Bombs exist to give people the chance to come together with others in their communities to make sure everyone in the community has their needs met. Mutual aid groups are all about building communities and empowering community members to take care of one another. They are often created to feed the homeless and provide groceries to needy families. You can volunteer at a free soup kitchen or deliver food boxes to needy households in your area.
Create a Community Pantry
A community pantry is a box, cupboard, or shed that community members fill with groceries for the use of the community. Community fridges, for perishable foods, are also becoming more common in towns and cities across America, although they of course need to be located somewhere where they can be plugged in. Community members are encouraged to contribute whatever groceries they can afford to donate. Anyone who needs food can take what they need from the community pantry for free. It’s a great way to ensure that everyone in your community has access to nutritious food.
Food insecurity is a big problem in America, but we can all come together to beat it. Do what you can to feed your neighbors, a grow a stronger community at the same time.