Easy Ways to Take Action to Help Food Insecure Families this Holiday Season
Let’s get real. 2020 was a very difficult year. We experienced chaos on all fronts, including murder hornets (yeah.. remember those?), political upheaval, and a pandemic that flipped our world upside down. Through it all, we’ve managed to find that glimmer of hope leading us across the threshold of 2020 and into a new year. But the year isn’t over yet, and many families are still hurting.
Did you know that nearly 1 in 4 households experienced food insecurity in 2020? Food insecurity is when a person or family lacks consistent access to enough food in order for them to maintain a healthy and active life. Earlier in the year, nearly 23% of households were hit with food insecurity due to the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. In fact, you probably know someone who was laid off or lost their job due to Covid. Many of your own neighbors most likely wondered how they could put food on the table and provide for their families.
In light of the recent data regarding food insecurity in the U.S., we wondered how we could appropriately give back to our community this holiday season. After all, everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a warm meal with their family - no matter the occasion. We’ve put together a quick guide on how to donate to families in need so you can easily start the process of giving. Let’s give back where we can this holiday and end 2020 on a high note!
1. Consider Working with your Local Discount Grocery Store
Our Experience: How We Made a Difference Through Grocery Outlet
Discount grocery stores are not only a great way to shop on a budget, but they are usually very integrated with their local communities. For example, Grocery Outlet runs a yearly campaign to collect food, cash, and online donations through their 350 stores. In July of 2020, they raised over four million dollars to feed families in need!
We’ve decided to keep the season of giving going by partnering with Emily Marsh (@eminthekitchen on Instagram) to donate $50 food vouchers from our local Grocery Outlets that will be shared with food insecure families in our communities.
Additionally, Emily has created a free ebook with tons of meal ideas using discount items found in the store that will be shared with the families who receive the vouchers. You can find her ebook of affordable recipe ideas here! This is a great reference to use for your family or to share with those in need.
If you’re interested in doing something similar, here’s how it works:
STEP 1 Decide how much money you’d like to donate overall (both Grace and Joe and Emily decided to contribute enough cash to feed a total of 40 families)
STEP 2 Contact a representative of your local Grocery Outlet (or you local Grocery Discount Store) to see if they’d be willing to turn those dollars into food vouchers for families
STEP 3 Be sure to ask if they are affiliated with any non-profit or local organizer that can distribute the vouchers (we were put into contact with Pastor Sean, a pastor at a local church who works with schools and families in the City Heights community)
STEP 4 Contact the non-profit or local organizer to set up a time to exchange the food vouchers and plan a time to distribute (due to Covid restrictions we won’t be able to physically help with distribution but that’s ok the important thing is that bellies get fed)
This definitely required some effort, but we encourage everyone to do their due diligence and work hard to get a project like this underway in your own communities! It can be a very fulfilling process, and one that gets you more involved in your community’s needs.
For more information on how Pastor Sean is helping the City Heights community, visit New Vision Church and Hope Toy Drive on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to give Emily a follow on Instagram for more updates on the ebook and how to create meals on a budget. We also worked with Maritza Baca from Monarch Marketing Group to help create the vouchers and get this project underway with Grocery Outlet. Additionally, a big thank you to the Rohnert Park Grocery Outlet and City Heights Grocery Outlet for working with us and Emily to produce the vouchers for food insecure families.
2. Donate to Food Banks
Food banks are non-profit organizations that help store food safely before it’s distributed to other local food programs. They vary in size, but some food banks can store up to a million pounds of fresh food! This food is usually donated by local retailers, restaurants, farmers, or people just like you.
There are some larger organizations out there, such as Feeding America, that can make the most out of a monetary donation if this is more your speed. They can turn your $10 donation into ninety meals for families, so even a small donation can be helpful. You can also find your local community food bank via their site if you’re interested in donating specific items directly.
What do food banks accept?
Many people refrain from donating because they’re unsure of what types of donations that food banks accept. Luckily, they are open to most dry and canned food donations, non-perishable items, and other personal care and household items.
Here’s a simple list for your reference when donating to your local food bank:
- Peanut butter
- Canned soup
- Canned fruit
- Canned vegetables
- Canned stew
- Canned fish
- Canned beans
- Whole grain pasta
- Brown rice
- Laundry Detergent
- Feminine Hygiene Products
More information on how to donate or volunteer at the San Diego Food Bank!
3. Donate to Food Pantries
Food pantries are local distribution centers that are supplied through food banks. They work directly with the community to feed hundreds of hungry families each day. These pantries are usually in a community-driven area, like a school or church, so that their items are more accessible to families with children. Some pantries register with larger organizations like Ample Harvest so that they can work more efficiently with local farmers, neighbors, and other donors.
Many farmers work with food pantries to donate leftovers from their harvest yield instead of leaving it to go to waste. This is a great idea for anyone to do! Donate extra produce or canned items directly to your local food pantry so a family gets a meal today. If you don’t have a food pantry in your area, check with your local schools and other organizations to see if they’d like to start one. This can be a great way to get involved with your community’s committees and organizations and help bring food to hungry families this year.
4. Other Ways to Help Your Community
Support Local Businesses. Supporting local businesses is very important to us. After all, we are a local San Diego small business! It’s especially necessary to lift up BIPOC small businesses this year. Together we can help shrink the racial wealth gap, help foster more job opportunities, and provide more diverse representation by shopping through black-led companies. You can visit Support Black Owned or the Black Lives Matter Carrd (this group gives back to Black Owned businesses destroyed during riots) to find a comprehensive list of ways you can help lift up black lives and businesses.
Interact with Online Care Communities. Many communities have online spaces to gather and work together to infuse love, joy, and giving to those in need. Get involved with a community-driven group on Facebook or start your own!
All you have to do is ask. When it comes to giving and donating, most people simply don’t know where to start. Luckily, all you have to do is ask! Contact a representative from your local nonprofits and organizations and ask where your time or money could be best spent.