In 2015, 109.3 million U.S. households were considered “food insecure” by the USDA, defined as the lack of access to enough food for all household members. Food insecurity is caused by the continued prevalence of poverty, and it exists in every county in the nation. While many factors cause domestic hunger, we can take steps to help relieve this issue by helping out in our local community. Here are a few ideas to get started:
1. Volunteer at a food bank
Donate a little time, and get to know your community, by volunteering at a soup kitchen or food bank. Learn about the needs of local programs (whether monetary, time or food donations, specifically needed foods, etc.), and take that information to friends and family to encourage local support. Volunteering is a great way to get kids and family members involved in community service, and the fight against domestic hunger.
2. Host a local food drive
Support local hunger relief efforts by organizing your own food drive for a food bank or homeless shelter in your neighborhood. Choose an organization, and coordinate with the food bank or shelter to determine their needs, set a reasonable collection goal, and plan out logistics such as start and end dates and transportation of donated food. Let friends, family, colleagues and neighbors know about the food drive, and encourage them to donate. Make sure food items meet the standards and needs of the organization they’re going to.
3. Financially support local nonprofits
If time constraints prevent you from volunteering, you can still help by giving money to a food bank or hunger-relief nonprofit in your area. Visit foodpantries.org to locate local pantries, soup kitchens and other hunger resources.4. Pay for student lunches
More than 20 million children in the U.S. receive free or reduced-price lunches each school day. However, some families still struggle to pay and/or file the necessary paperwork. While most districts allow children to run a tab for a time, or provide alternative options if they can’t pay, unpaid debt may be sent to a collection agency. Consider calling local schools to see if any students have overdue lunch accounts, and donate funds to pay off the debt, helping secure meals for kids who need them.