Many of us take the food in our refrigerators and cupboards for granted. It can be easy to forget that hunger is real, and people all around us may not know where their next meal will come from. Food insecurity doesn’t discriminate, affecting an estimated 40 million Americans, 12 million which are children. Food banks can help fill the gap for those who face a food shortage by collecting food and then distributing it to various local hunger relief agencies, who in turn distribute to those affected.
With the holidays approaching, it’s important to recognize the work that these organizations do each day and do our part to help support them and those in need in our communities. We spoke with Blanca Tristani who runs the local food pantry here in Amsterdam New York, Catholic Charities, about ways we can all lend a hand.
Here are a few ideas of ways that you can rally the troops at work and help those in need!
Food pantries like Blanca’s are happy to accept help in any form, though the gift of money can go the furthest. Local pantries can purchase goods from larger regional food banks at a discount rate of 8-1, meaning that each one dollar that is donated can purchase eight dollars’ worth of food and that food will be distributed directly to those who need help right in your community.
Here at Amsterdam, we like to rally support by putting the ‘fun’ in fundraising. Raffles, bake sales and companywide bingo games are all effective ways to raise awareness for the cause as well as donations. Try to keep things fun in your efforts and watch the generosity spread!
These food banks and front line charities can provide so much to so many and sometimes the supplies dwindle. If you want to make an immediate impact on the hunger crisis for those in need then donate non-perishable food! Canned meats like tuna, chicken and chili as well as dry non-sugar cereal and 100% fruit juice are always in high demand and short supply. Also, soups, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and rice are always a great choice. Think high nutritional value and low effort accessibility when looking for items to donate. Non-perishable proteins in pop-top cans and screw-top jars are always best. You’ll also want to steer clear of certain items such as cans with missing labels, glass containers or anything perishable. Here’s a list of items that are always in high demand that will get you started.
The key is to set a goal. We’re fans of the big empty thermometer that we fill as the donation period continues. It serves as a visual representation of where we are and where we need to be and it creates a sense of urgency as you close in on your end date. Keep your donation bins easily accessible and motivate your employees and coworkers by keeping them up to date on your progress!
According to feedingamerica.org, 51% of all food programs rely on volunteers to run it. There are different opportunities available depending on the food program that you’re assisting. For example, you may be sorting the donations for the pantry, packing the food for the consumers or even educating the public on the needs of hungry. Donate your time and get something amazing in return!
Reach out to your local pantry, soup kitchen or food bank to see what you can do to help. You can find volunteers in your place of business, posting the sign-up sheet somewhere prominent. Goodwill has a way of spreading, so when people see that their coworkers are on a list to volunteer their time they’ll be much more likely to join in.
Think of the difference you can make with a just a few hours.
Whether you choose to donate money, food or your time, it is appreciated by the people who need it, no matter how small. So let’s get your team energized, mobilized and supporting your community this holiday season.