Today is Christmas Eve. If you are like me, you might be spending your afternoon cooking and preparing for Christmas dinner tomorrow. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s hard not to be swept up by the festive holiday mood. It’s also hard to not be aware that this year more than any year in recent history, many American families are having a hard time putting food on the table. According the US Census, more than 40 million Americans are living in poverty and nearly 1 in 5 children are at risk of hunger. In a country as properous as the United States, this seems unthinkable but it’s reality. My adopted home state of North Carolina, which has a primarily manufacturing-based economy, has been very hard hit. Our local food banks have been working over time to keep pace with the sudden increase in demand from families who have fallen on tough times.
The good news is there are very easy ways to help your community (and maybe your neighbor). Many local grocery stores are partnering with local food pantries as collection spots for food donations. Through their Friends Feeding Friends program my local grocery store, Lowe’s Foods, has pre-bagged bags of food that you can purchase for donation to a local food bank. I’ve made it a habit to purchase one of these bags of food every time I grocery shop.
You can also donate online to organizations like Share Our Strength, which work at the national level and with local charities to end childhood hunger across the US.
Or you can donate food, money or your time to your local foodbank. You may be surprised to learn one is closer to you than you might think given the number of churches that are operating food pantries to serve their community. Don’t have money to give but would like to donate something out of your own pantry? Here’s a partial list of non-perishable food items that food banks like to receive:
Canned vegetables and fruit
Baking supplies such as flour, oil, sugar
Baby food including baby formula
It’s easy to do your part to help a family who might need a little extra help right now. Wishing you and your family a very blessed holiday and new year.