Lifestyle

How to donate to your local food bank


WWhile millions of people piled up with toilet paper and all the canned goods they could find at the beginning of the pandemic, millions more were completely unable to access food. Currently, millions of people still don’t have the option to buy food in bulk (or a lot of it). Of course, there are people in need year-round, but according to Lisa Davis, senior vice president of No Kid Hungry, the need is even greater right now. Local food banks have been hit hard and demand is growing.

Why should you donate to local food banks?

“Millions of vulnerable children are losing the healthy meals they depend on when [COVID-19] closing schools across the country,” Davis said at the start of the pandemic. “Since [March 17, 2020], 39 states have closed schools completely. When you add in the closed counties in other states, that means 41.6 million children, or 4 out of 5, are out of school.” Even in areas where schools do not go to school. Still open, many businesses have closed, which means hourly workers who may have been struggling to make ends meet have been hit hard.

Fortunately, as of July 2022, the health risks posed by the pandemic have diminished over time. However, Davis noted that the demand and the financial impact have not yet subsided. “Families still face ongoing challenges due to strained supply chains, soaring food and gas prices and soaring inflation,” she said. “Today, one in six children faces hunger in America.”

According to a recent Feeding America food bank survey, 80% of food banks nationwide report increased or steady demand for food. Zuani Villarreal, senior communications director for Feeding America, said food insecurity exists everywhere. “It could be your classmate; it could be a colleague; it could be your neighbor [or] someone who goes to church needs help and I think awareness of that will motivate people to help,” she said. For this reason, donating to food banks is more important than ever.

Why specifically donate to food banks?

Michael Guerra, general food bank development manager, is very efficient in their logistics processes, making the food industry the only place for donations they can trust to be handled. with best-in-class food safety considerations. San Antonio Food Bank in Texas. “Food banks also work to equitably distribute food donations to local nonprofits that have food as part of their mission—food pans, shelters, kitchens soups, etc.” And, he added, food banks are often the primary institution in the community that aims to reduce food insecurity for low-income and resourced households. limited power in that community.

In addition to providing food, Guerra said most food banks also provide nutrition education and access to public safety programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

How do I donate to a local food bank?

The donation process will vary from food bank to food bank. To find your local food bank, Villarreal recommends going to FeedingAmerica.org and entering your zip code into the food bank locator. From there, she recommends connecting with that local food bank. Usually, they will have a list of the most essential things you can donate.

Financial donations are also welcome at most food banks as volunteers. “Volunteering is a huge demand at all food banks,” says Guerra. “And donating dollars goes a long way, too. In fact, with the rise of fuel, most food banks need dollars more than ever to keep food flowing in and out of their local service area.”

Other local meal programs like Meals on Wheels also rely on volunteers to deliver and prepare meals. “For many recipients, the trusted Meals on Wheels volunteer shows up every day with a meal and a smile is the only person they see or talk to,” said Jenny Young, vice president of communications for Meals on Wheels America. same story all day.

And if you can’t donate food, money or time, Davis says helping spread the word about available resources to families in need is one of the easiest ways to help. “No Kid Hungry has a text line to help,” she said. “Families can text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 304-304 to find community mealtime locations for their children.”

What food (or other) items can be donated?

As a rule of thumb, Villarreal said food banks are looking for pantry staples that most people have in their kitchens like cereals, pasta, canned beans, cereals, and cereals. peanut butter. Guerra adds that low-sodium canned vegetables, rice and canned fruit are also needed.

There are some items that food banks don’t usually accept donations for, such as homemade items, Guerra said. Villarreal advises against giving away items in glass containers as they can break in transit or anything opened, damaged or unlabelled.

Please keep the expiration date in mind. “Many non-perishable items have a shelf life far beyond their sale date,” says Guerra. So Villarreal recommends using your best judgment. If the item is close to its expiration date you can donate, but if it’s past the date it’s best to throw it away.

Depending on the food bank, some also accept other items as donations. Think about things you can find at your local grocery store, such as feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, toiletries, diapers, baby food. pets and other household items.

5 food banks and food programs to donate right now

1. Feeding America

With 200 food banks (where goods are stored) and 60,000 food warehouses (where goods can be picked up) around the country, chances are there’s a Feeding America delivery location near you. To receive a donation, nothing is required and no questions asked.

2. Food saves us

Food Rescue US is great because it helps donate fresh food to those in need, including a variety of healthy products and proteins. If you work in the restaurant industry, instead of throwing away your leftovers, consider donating to Food Rescue US, which will repurpose them into delicious meals for those in need.

3. Meals on American Wheels

For those unable to make their own way to the pantry, Meals On Wheels is an important resource, bringing food to the hands of those in need. Since the elderly are most at risk for COVID-19, Meals On Wheels in particular is a valuable resource right now. You can donate money or spend time volunteering in your city.

4. Feeding Children

Feed The Children has long provided food and resources through the public school system and of course continues to do so today. Although the organization does not accept food, you can make a monetary donation through the organization’s website.

5. There are no hungry children

You can help contribute to No Kid Hungry’s efforts by raising funds, organizing fundraisers at your workplace, and contacting elected officials. Visit its website for more information.

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