Food banks are a great avenue for people to assist their community without having to worry about a time commitment. Like any non-profit agency, they need the help of volunteers to run. But even more so, they need donations in order to function. Whether you donate non-perishable goods, fresh produce, money, or your time, you are helping those in the community that truly need your help.
Right now, millions of Americans are struggling with hunger. We all know and are in contact with people affected by hunger, even though we might not be aware of it.
These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days. Most of us simply have no idea. It’s time to educate ourselves about America’s hunger problem.
Here are some statistics from Feeding America that may give you a better idea (check out their website for much more information, including how to find a food bank in your area):
- In 2007, 36.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 23.8 million adults and 12.4 million children.
- In 2007, 11.1 percent of households (13 million households) were food insecure, a statistically insignificant increase from 10.9 percent (12.6 million households) in 2006.
- In 2007, 3.4 percent of all U.S. households (3.9 million households) accessed emergency food from a food pantry one or more times
People always remember to donate to their local food banks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but those who need the services of a food bank are in need year round. In fact, over the summer months the supplies at many food banks drop to harmfully low levels. I remember one summer when I was working for the SNAP food bank in Spokane, WA, it was so bad that there was no pasta, canned meat, or beans on the shelves. These are two VERY important staples at a food bank.
For those of us who have gardens, a great way to help is to donate fresh produce. I keep trying to find ways to use up all the kale and arugula in my garden, and this week, I have found a solution. I am going to harvest a bunch of it and take it to the food bank. While these are not the typical types of produce donated, they are still fresh, organic produce.
In researching for this post I checked out the website of my local food bank: FISH. To my surprise, I found out they have a limited soup kitchen!! When I first started this series, I complained that my small community did not have a soup kitchen. It only runs fro 12-1:30 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for lunch. But something is always better than nothing. While I don’t want to add too many volunteer projects to my plate, I am going to see what it takes to volunteer to cook lunch. I think it would be great to be able to make a dish that is easy and economical with the kale and arugula and then be able to give the people both the recipe and ingredients necessary to make it themselves. I will report back to see how that goes.
So, how do you give back to your community?