The U.S. is a wealthy country. None of our citizens should go hungry and yet too many do. Millions of adults, some homeless and some not, don’t have enough food to eat. And then there are the children. Thirteen million children (or one in six kids) face hunger in the United States. Fortunately, if we work together we can put a stop to this. Supporting your local food bank or food pantry is one important step we can all take to help end hunger and feed your community.
Food Banks vs. Food Pantries
While food banks and food pantries are similar, they serve different purposes. It’s important to know the difference between the two before you sign up to volunteer or help.
According to the Food Bank of Central New York, “a food bank is a warehouse and distribution center where food is solicited, received, inventoried, and then distributed to local [food] pantries and soup kitchens.” So food bank volunteers are often working in the warehouse, moving boxes and sorting goods. They may also help out in the main office or pick up groceries from donors.
A food pantry, on the other hand, “is a charity that distributes food and grocery products directly to those in need.” When you volunteer for a food pantry you are often preparing, serving, or delivering meals to those in need.
Feed Your Community for the Holidays
This holiday season be a Mindful Hero and find out how you can help your local food pantry or food bank. Listed below are a few tips to help you get started.
Find your local food bank or pantry. First things first—to help those in need of a good meal, you’ll need to find a food bank or pantry in your local area. Check your community directory or use Feeding America’s online locator to find one of the closest food resources from their network.
Donate money to a food bank. Food banks need charitable donations in order to buy food for others. Consider giving them a financial gift this year. Or forgo receiving holiday gifts this year and ask others to donate to your local food bank in your name.
Start a food drive. If you want to get your office or religious center into the charitable spirit this holiday season, host a food drive. Ask your local food bank what goods they need, print out a list, and distribute them among your friends and coworkers. When you’ve collected all the food, you can deliver them to the food bank.
Become a volunteer at a pantry. Contact your local food pantry and see if they need volunteers for cleaning, preparing, packing, or serving meals. Many charities have tons of extra help during the holidays. So if they don’t need your help right away, be sure to ask again at the start of the new year.
Become an advocate. Be a part of the solution by becoming an advocate. Contact your congress officials and tell them to support federal nutrition programs. Encourage them to support local legislation that feeds hungry families and hold them accountable when they don’t.
Educate your children. Your whole community, including your children, can help end the hunger fight. Check out this free “Hungry to Help: Family Action Plan” from Scholastic. It can help you educate your kids on the mission to end hunger.