Three Ways to Help the Hungry in Your Community

Three Ways to Help the Hungry in your Community
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This time of year, most of us are getting ready to sit down to a Thanksgiving feast with our family and friends. We’re ready to stuff ourselves silly with second and third helpings of a delicious meal, and enjoy the warmth of a toasty fireplace (or, in my case, a space heater).

Unfortunately, not everyone is as blessed. In these tough economic times, 1 in 7 American households can’t afford dinner each night. Hunger is a growing issue for every city and in every community in America—in fact, one of the families in need could be your neighbor.

I just took out my holiday decorations, and am planning to get a tree this weekend. But as I prepare my own home for the holiday season, I’m also aware of the people in my community who need help. I know that it’s not always easy to know where to start and how to help, so I’ve done a bit of research.

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Here are three ways I’ve found to help the hungry:

1) Donate to a food drive

Right around Thanksgiving, grocery stores, apartment complexes and retail chains begin to organize food drives where you can donate your canned foods. Can’t find one? Consider organizing one yourself! Find your local food bank and ask what items they need most. This guide will help you organize.

2) Volunteer at a local soup kitchen

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Feel like getting hands-on? Volunteer with a local organization helping feed the hungry. Not sure where to begin? With a website like Volunteer Match you can find nonprofits in your area working to end hunger—just search by zip code and the keyword “hunger.” (Many of these charities would be happy to have even a few hours of your help with their Thanksgiving meal, and you’d still have plenty of time for your own family time.)

3) Donate to your local food bank.

A food bank receives food donations and distributes them to those in need. JustGive makes it easy to find your local food bank and make a monetary donation. Just use our convenient search tool—plug in your zip code and keywords “food bank.”

Donate to a Food Bank

 

I hope you’ve found these suggestions helpful, and will consider helping the hungry in your own backyard this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Four ways to feed the hungry

Thanksgiving Skype

Each Thanksgivingmy family makes it a priority to have dinner together. Even when I was living abroad for my first holiday away from home, my dad booted up Skype so that I could join in the festivities virtually. For us, it’s not just the meal that’s important. It’s taking time off of work, turning off our cell phones, and coming together in one place. We start by going around the table and saying what we are most grateful for. It is never difficult to think of or name our blessings—the most obvious of which is the food in front of us. It gives us a way to celebrate while satisfying our basic human need.

At Thanksgiving, more than any other time, it’s obvious there is enough food to go around. (And around and around.) While our own family’s table bursts at the seam with turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I know there are many in my own backyard of San Francisco going to sleep hungry and cold. And the number of homeless and hungry families is only growing with unemployment at a staggering 9.1 percent. That’s nearly 14 million Americans.

This Thanksgiving season, my appeal is simple. Fill someone else’s belly.

  1. Give – Donate to organizations that feed the hungry every day.
  2. Volunteer – Make it part of your family tradition to visit a soup kitchen or shelter or help out at a food bank, and combine spending time together with doing something meaningful.
  3. Share your meal – If you know a family that is struggling, invite them to join yours for dinner or stop by their home with leftovers. (Your church or a nearby school may know of a family if you don’t.)
  4. Click on The Hunger SiteBookmark the page, click daily, and sponsors pay for food.

However you choose to contribute, make it last. Volunteer throughout the year or consider making your donation monthly recurring. In these tough times, it’s no secret that hunger is an everyday problem for many.

>>Like us on Facebook for more tips and ideas on how you can give back during the holidays.
>>Visit JustGive for tips on Other Ways to Give.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Famine – It’s a small world, after all

I am reminded daily just how small our world can be. Most recently, an earthquake on the other side of the globe could have contaminated the fish I eat for dinner or the California coastal water I swim in. Japanese trading delays affected the lines of iPad impatience outside our local Apple stores—providing a front row seat to how connected our modern world is and how faraway disasters can have ripple effects that touch us in unexpected ways.

Seemingly back to back, a stream of disasters have headlined the US media: Haiti, The Gulf Coast oil spill, earthquake and nuclear contamination in Japan, tornadoes in the South – and now the horn of Africa drought.  The UN has declared famine in several regions of war-torn Somalia during the continent’s worst drought in more than 60 years. This is a dire prognosis, given the limited aid available/allowed by the current al-Shabab regime and the mass migration of people fleeing to neighboring countries for refuge that may not exist.

Photo Credit: Business Daily

Not as many people have responded to the Somali famine as previous disasters or requests for aid. Perhaps we feel helpless, that our dollars don’t make a difference, or that we’ve donated to other causes and are already stretched thin. In the meantime, 3.2 million people, nearly half the population of Somalia, need immediate life saving assistance. To date, more than 29,000 children have already died and another 640,000 are malnourished.

Photo Credit: Associated Press, Zuydam

While living abroad, I participated in the 40-Hour Famine with World Vision Australia, where I raised money by not eating for 40 hours. It was a real life feeling of what it would be like to live and function without sustenance – luckily one that ended after a mere 2 days.

40 Hour Famine Crew at the South Australian Global Leadership Convention

Millions of people both domestically and abroad are not so fortunate.

IMAGE CREDIT: FAMINE EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS NETWORK & FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION ANALYSIS UNIT

I am immediately struck by the current crisis in Africa and consider it to be a GLOBAL concern and priority that children are dying of starvation in a world where there is and should be enough food for everyone. We all need to be involved, and take it personally.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Support charities providing assistance on the ground: 

In our ever-growing and connected “small world,” my actions – and yours –can make things better.

>> Wondering how much to give? JustGive helps you get started. Consider making your gift an automatic monthly donation (just click recurring).

>> Start a charity registry and do your own famine fundraising!

>> Keep the conversation going on Facebook and Twitter – inspire your friends to be part of the solution.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Food nourishes the body. Giving nourishes the soul.

Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. Nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy quite like friends and family gathered at home, sharing laughter and memories, and eating generous helpings of my favorite comfort foods. But what makes this holiday so special to me isn’t roasted and placed on a table. Thanksgiving is a time to take a moment to appreciate the abundance in our lives, even in hard times.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my father, and the first with my daughter. Like most families, we go around the table saying what we are thankful for this year. My father always said things like, “I’m grateful to complain about going to work tomorrow, because it means I have a job” or “I’m grateful I’ll be stuck doing the dishes, because it means we had food to eat.” He truly understood what it means to give thanks. I’m grateful for the wisdom he passed on, and hope to pass it on to my daughter.

This Thanksgiving, give someone else something to be thankful for. Your generosity can provide a hot meal, a warm bed to sleep in, and comfort in a time of need.

 
Is there food in your kitchen?

The USDA announced the number of Americans who rely on food stamps has increased 17% in the last year—up to 42 million. But with $2 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, resources for hungry families are dwindling. A report from theU.S. Department of Agriculture reported nearly 6 million households—affecting as manyas 1 million children—had ongoing financial problems that forced them to miss meals regularly.

I found a few charities that are working to bridge this gap:

 

  • A $20 donation to Feeding America provides an amazing 140 meals.
  • For $35, Meals on Wheels will provide a hot meal and a comforting visit to 5 home bound seniors.
  • A $50 donation to Rubicon Programs buys a grocery bag of fresh food for a formerly homeless family moving into their new home.

 

Not just a man on the corner holding a sign

After years of record high unemployment and foreclosures, it’s likely that someone you know—a co-worker, a friend, a relative—is now without a stable place to call home. Budget cuts trickling down from a rough economy make the future uncertain for those who need a roof over their head so they can get back in their feet.

When you’re cleaning your home for visitors this holiday, consider donating to organizations helping those in need of shelter and warmth:

  • A $25 donation buys paint for a house built by Habitat for Humanity. For an additional $100 you can buy the kitchen sink, too!
  • A $35 donation to Covenant House provides clean sheets and a blanket to a homeless youth.

 

Are you a guest at Thanksgiving diner?

A charity gift card makes the perfect hostess gift! You choose the card and gift amount, and add your personal message. Your recipient uses the card to donate to any charity of their choice. For as little as $15, you can give a green gift for good!

Have something you’re thankful for that you’d like to share with friends of JustGive? Visit us on Facebook.

Then let’s spread the thanks around – Tell a Friend!

Give thanks. Give hope.

One of my favorite days as a JustGive employee was when the staff volunteered at a soup kitchen in the San Francisco Haight/Ashbury neighborhood. We served a hot meal to homeless war veterans, students struggling with high cost of living, and low-income seniors. It was a vivid reminder that rough economic times mean more people than ever need help meeting basic needs.

According to the 2008 US Conference of Mayors, requests for emergency food assistance increased by 18% last year. 36 million people in the U.S. (12% of the total U.S. population) are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive food stamps. For those Americans, the food budget for a family of four is a mere $11.46 a day. Shocked? I was! Prior to the American Recovery & Investment Act of 2009, the daily allotment was only $7 per day.

Sadly, even with these programs, the most recent estimates show 50 million people—including almost one child in four—struggled last year to get enough to eat.

Reaching out to those in need

Panera Bread’s Day-End Dough-Nation program packages unsold bakery products at the end of each day to donate to local food banks and charities. In 2008, more than 50 million dollars worth of bread and baked goods were distributed to organizations helping to address the need for food in our local communities.

Children’s Hunger Fund Food Pak program provides a 20-pound box of food to families in need all over the world. The program allows churches and community groups the opportunity to get directly involved in helping needy families. Each member fills a box (or two). Then CHF distributes the boxes right to the doorstep of families in need all over the world.

WIC (Women Infants and Children) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Fighting hunger with your actions

JustGive makes it easy to act globally or locally to make a difference:

  • A $75 donation to Seattle-based FamilyWorks provides a two-week supply of formula, diapers, baby food and cereal for an infant. For $100, a homebound elderly person will receive 2 deliveries of canned goods and milk/produce.
  • Your gift of $70 allows Meds & Foods for Kids to provide a child with one year of malnutrition treatment. This peanut-based therapeutic food is ready to eat and requires no refrigeration.
  • The Bay Area Rescue Mission can provide 10 people with a hot meal this Thanksgiving for only $20.
  • You can feed a pregnant or breastfeeding mother for a year, helping her children grow up healthy and strong, with a $60 donation to the Friends of the World Food Program.

This holiday, as you pause to be thankful for what you have, consider giving of your time at a local Food Bank or making a donation to help someone else who may otherwise go hungry. In my experience, it’s something you’ll always remember.

Tell a friend about JustGive, and share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager

Home for the Holidays

Thankfully most of us will never know what it’s like to spend a night in our car, find shelter in a park, or not know where we will get our next meal. We identify homelessness with strangers—the man on the street corner asking for change, or the mom and child trying to find shelter to escape violence.

With home foreclosures at a record high, it’s no surprise nonprofits are expecting longer lines for their shelters this winter. Nighttime temperatures are dropping below freezing throughout the country right now, and obtaining a dry, warm place to sleep is necessary for survival.

In 2007, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimated 3.5 million people—1.35 million of them children—are likely to experience homelessness in a given year. According to Housing and Urban Development, last year, 1 in every 200 people spent at least one night in a homeless facility. The San Francisco Homeless Services Coalition (a branch of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition) estimates there are currently 35,000 homeless in the Bay Area: thirty percent are families with children, and more than half sleep on the streets at night.

Overwhelmed? JustGive makes it easy to give a little and make a big difference.

The problem of homelessness can seem too big, too far from our homes. So how can you personally make a difference? By donating as little as $10, you provide a safe place to stay, a warm meal for empty stomachs, and dignity and hope for a better future.

Here are several charities in my backyard that are helping the homeless:

· San Francisco Interfaith Council is a network of faith-based organizations “committed to the principles of human dignity.” For the past 19 years, the council has provided shelter and hot meals for the homeless in San Francisco. This year, cold weather shelters will be open from November 23 through February 28.

· The Oakland Army Base provides temporary winter shelter and hot meals for homeless in Alameda County from November through March. The Oakland Army Base Workforce Development Collaborative supplies housing, food, employment, and healthcare to low income residents and the homeless year-round.

· Glide provides three hot meals to the city’s hungry everyday—750,000 meals per year. For some who come to eat, Glide may be the only safe and welcoming environment they experience in a day’s time. In a recent interview for the San Francisco Chronicle, nonprofit leaders state that drastic increases in the need for food and shelter, combined with cuts in funding, are creating “a crisis in the emergency homeless services system.”

How can I help my local charity provide shelter from the cold and a hot meal to families in need this winter?

Search JustGive’s database of nearly 1.5 million charities and find shelters in your city or zip code that would benefit from your donation. Donate to a local charity you know and make a difference for those who otherwise would go without a roof over their heads and food.

Bringing it Home

Know someone having a house warming party? Going home for the Thanksgiving and don’t know what to bring? Make a donation in a friend or family member’s name to an organization that provides help and hope for those without homes. Don’t know what charity to choose? Buy a GiveNow Card and let them select from nearly 1.5 million organizations that make a difference.

Want to spread the word? Tell a friend.

Blog Action Day: Food For Change

JustGive is proud to be part of Blog Action Day 2008.

One issue. One Day. Thousands of voices for change.

Hunger is one of the most direct and widespread effect of poverty. As household budgets are stretched and food prices skyrocket, too many families are forced to choose between putting a roof over their head or food on the table. Recent estimates suggest nearly 35 million Americans, including 12.6 million children, struggle to get enough to eat. Worldwide, someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds. Three-fourths of these deaths are children under the age of 5.

October 16th is World Food Day

JustGive makes it easy to support charities providing food for those who need it:

– Search the list of U.S. and global organizations fighting hunger and poverty in the JustGive Guide

– Think globally, give locally. Enter your city’s name and keyword “food bank” to find local organizations that provide meals to struggling families, veterans, and senior citizens.

What does your money buy?

– Every dollar donated to Feeding America provides 20 pounds of food.

– For $15, the World Food Programme can feed 60 school children one hot meal.

– For $24, the Children’s Hunger Fund can supply food for 5 people.

– With $35, Share Our Strength can feed a child 3 meals a day for more than a month. With $100, they can provide 25 bags of food for families relying on food banks.

– For $75, Action Against Hunger can supply a family of four with grains and other food staples for two weeks.

Big Companies Give Big

During the past month Weight Watchers has matched every pound lost by their participants with the equivalent of a pound of food, donated to those who need it around the world (up to $1 million dollars).

The KFC Corporation promised to donate $20,000 to the UN World Food Programme if a participant at the October 7th presidential debate mentioned global hunger issues. No one did. Thankfully, KFC will be donating the money anyway.

Want to get more involved?

Read 88 Ways to DO Something About Poverty Right Now.

Spread the word. Tell a friend.