Friday, September 23, 2011

Hunger Action Month: What Can I Do?

It is Hunger Action Month.  And I said I was going to post more about this whole topic.  So here goes...

What can YOU do to make a difference?

And really, there are so many possibilities.   And it has seemed to me that this is one area that is fairly family-friendly.  I don't know about you, but it sure seemed to me that when I was trying to find community service projects for my kids & I to do together, practically everyone had a minimum age of 13.  Or ONE child under 13 with a parent.  

A lot of the things we've found within the "hunger" area, though, are possible for wider age ranges.  

Where can you help?  Well, like I mentioned in my previous post, if you visit Feeding America's website, that can be a starting point for finding local groups, missions or agencies.  Visit their websites, and start looking around.

What can you do?  Some things we have done, or other people I know have done:
  • taken donations and split them up into boxes to go to individual food banks. 
  • washed containers used for giving personal care items to clients (shampoo gets put into washed out 20 oz soda bottles at one of the organizations we've helped).
  • sorted produce. 
  • transferred dried beans from 50# or 100# bags into quart or gallon ziplocs to be given out.  This one can be huge.  I know one food bank who could give out beans quite consistently... if it was in appropriate sized containers.
  • cut worn out jeans into squares for other people to quilt, and those quilts are auctioned or raffled off for money.
  • hauled boxes of food to people's cars
  • take food provided by a food bank and bake it into desserts to go into Thanksgiving baskets.  Or precook turkeys.  Or can excess produce donations.
  • put together little flyers with ideas for using certain items -- potatoes, dried beans, etc. -- to help educate the clients in making use of some of the staple foods that tend to be inexpensive and easier to obtain and distribute.
  • One food pantry we've worked at also will do up samples of food... so if they are featuring ways to use rice that week, someone will have cooked up some rice dishes (a salad, rice pudding, something hot with veggies added) and clients can sample the dishes in addition to getting the recipes.
  • Stand at donation boxes greeting people and thanking them for donations
  • Many of the food pantries I've known would be thrilled to have a family come and walk around the perimeter of the building and pray for those who volunteer, those who donate, and everyone who utilizes the services that day.
  • help put some things together for a class that is being planned to educate local people regardless of "need" about gardening in our desert climate.
  • In a couple weeks Grant Family Farms, a semi-local farm is looking for volunteers to come in and harvest potatoes -- they planted 3 acres of potatoes specifically to donate, and they want people to come and volunteer for 2 hours to pick and carry those.
  • Many areas have community gardens where you can go and help plant, weed, harvest, etc.
  • Serve in a soup kitchen
  • Drive meals to elderly or shut-in people for Meals on Wheels
  • Pick up produce from farmer's markets to deliver back to the food bank.  Many food banks will have agreements with certain farmers for that.
This barely scratches the surface.  And it didn't even include things like donating food.  But if you are going to donate, call the organization.  Find out what they actually need.  Canned meat is a good guess.  Most food banks I've seen have lots of canned peas, green beans and corn...

What have you done?  What other ideas do you have?

1 comment:

Jill said...

These are all good ideas. We have packaged a "complete meal" in a clear ziplock bag. This included a can of soup with a pull top, capri sun, fruit cup, pop tart, spoon and napkin. Then put a devotional booklet inside. These are easily kept in the car and when we see people holding need help signs we can open the window and give them a meal. These have been very well received.