Why Should I Care? Hunger prevents millions of Americans from living healthy, productive lives. Children who live in households affected by hunger are negatively affected in both their physical and mental development. This threatens their ability to become productive, contributing members of society when they grow up, which in turn threatens future American prosperity. Every day, families are force to make the difficult decision between buying food and paying bills and rent. Many low-income families rely on emergency food assistance from our nation's food banks, food pantries, and feeding programs in order to make ends meet. In these tough economic times, the emergency food system is stretched to the brink because needs are up while donations are down. During the current recession, many formerly middle-class families have been forced to turn to their local food banks and food pantries for help. Contrary to popular belief, many people served by America's food banks have at least one working adult in their household. Many others are too old or too young to work. There are currently more than 200 food banks in the country, with more than 63,000 affiliated agencies like (food pantries and shelters). This network distributes more than 2.5 billion pounds of food to needy Americans each year.
What Can I Do? Donate food to your local food bank
Make sure to contact your local food bank to ensure your donation meets the needs of the food bank and the population it serves.
Organize a virtual food drive and donate money to a food bank For every dollar you donate, Feeding America can provide 7 meals to men, women, and children facing hunger in our country. Because food banks typically handle truckload size donations of food, a virtual food drive is one of the most efficient ways to help get more food to more hungry Americans by maximizing the dollar. Just like traditional food drives, virtual food drives allow you to shop for items, engage your friends, and build a service community. In addition, you can stretch your dollar by shopping in bulk, ensuring that the Food Bank gets the food items it most needs and reducing distribution and sorting costs. Learn more at http://help.feedingamerica.org/site/TR?fr_id=1080&pg=entry
Enroll eligible food pantry clients in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Many food pantries offer a variety of social services to their clients. Volunteer at food pantry to screen people for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps), talk to families about other nutrition assistance programs such as School Meals, and the Summer Food Service Program, and help connect eligible families to a variety of federal benefits.
Use your professional skill set to help the food bank operate more effectively Food pantries often need skilled volunteers to help them run their operations. These are ongoing opportunities (such as public relations, accounting, IT and web design services, strategic planning, legal, accounting, design, and fundraising work), and volunteers can often perform these tasks on their own schedules, mostly from their home or office.
Impact of Volunteering In these tough economic times, America's food banks, food pantries and feeding programs are more important than ever. With the food banking system under enormous strain, there is a tremendous need for both volunteers and donations of food and funds to emergency food programs across the country. By helping one of these programs, you can help ensure that those who are struggling through the current recession need not go hungry.
Success Story The New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH) represents the more than 1,200 nonprofit soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City and the more than 1.3 million low-income New Yorkers who are forced to use them. The Coalition works to meet the immediate food needs of low-income New Yorkers and enact innovative solutions to help them move "beyond the soup kitchen" to self-sufficiency. The Coalition Against Hunger's volunteer matching system allows volunteers to find emergency feeding programs (soup kitchens, food banks, and other nonprofit groups) that are in need of volunteer assistance. The web tool allows volunteers to search by criteria matched to particular preferences, including neighborhood, travel time, subway line, and professional skills. http://www.nyccah.org/get-involved/volunteer