Giving Back: Food Insecurity
As we move closer to Thanksgiving, it’s natural to feel even more willing than usual to give back to our communities. So why not capitalize on it? In keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, let’s talk about food insecurity and ways to eradicate it. Food insecurity is the disruption of regular eating patterns due to a lack of money or other vital resources. Given that unemployment is a prominent driver of food insecurity, the pandemic and subsequent wave of lost jobs has led to a spike in America’s food insecurity. School closings have added to the increase, since many food insecure families depend on their kids’ schools providing meals during the weekdays. The good news is there are so many ways for us to pitch in and provide for our communities, which, again, is what this season is all about. Here are some ideas to get you started on how you and yours can give back to those in need:
Volunteer at or donate to your local food bank: food banks and food distribution centers often need volunteers to help sort food and pack boxes, with demand consistently on the rise during the holidays. Foodpantry.org is an online directory where you can find food pantries near you. If donating, take the extra step to call ahead and find out what your local pantry needs most.
Donate to Feeding America: Feeding America is a network made up of 200 food banks, all of which are committed to eradicating hunger across the nation. Find your local chapter online and arrange a donation, or even sign up for a volunteer shift if you feel called to!
Host a food drive or raise donations at holiday get-togethers: hosting a Friendsgiving feast or a Christmas party this year? Why not throw in a little charitable giving? Encourage guests to bring non-perishable food items (a simple price of admission) or collect monetary donations throughout the evening for a food pantry or other organization.
Stock a community fridge: Organizers across America have taken to installing public refrigerators that operate on donations to feed their communities. Check Freedge.org for a map of community fridges, pick up a few extra items on your next grocery run, and drop them off at a fridge near you.
Volunteer or donate to Meals on Wheels: as of right now, more seniors are avoiding grocery stores in an effort to stay COVID-19 free. Meals on Wheels ensures they get regular and nutritious meal deliveries. Check with your local chapter to see what they need most: volunteers, funds, or kitchen supplies.
Start or donate to a community garden: have some extra green space in your neighborhood? Use it! Plant a community garden for everyone to enjoy. It will provide a stress-reducing and educational environment for parents and families, and a source of free and nutritious foods for food-insecure community members. If you don’t have or know of land that’s available, no worries. Community gardens are more popular than ever, and a quick Google search can help you find one closest to you. Set up a donation to help them keep feeding the masses.
Sign up for a CSA: CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is a scheduled delivery or pickup of a box of fruits and vegetables from a local farm. Signing up for a CSA is a great way to ensure you are consuming enough fruits and veggies, but there are added benefits: they are oftentimes cheaper than grocery stores, and many farms use funds from CSA subscribers to offer discounted prices to food-insecure families. Investing in local farms is a great way to help them continue to serve those in need. Visit Localharvest.org to find a farm near you that offers a CSA.