One of my favorite days as a JustGive employee was when the staff volunteered at a soup kitchen in the San Francisco Haight/Ashbury neighborhood. We served a hot meal to homeless war veterans, students struggling with high cost of living, and low-income seniors. It was a vivid reminder that rough economic times mean more people than ever need help meeting basic needs.
According to the 2008 US Conference of Mayors, requests for emergency food assistance increased by 18% last year. 36 million people in the U.S. (12% of the total U.S. population) are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive food stamps. For those Americans, the food budget for a family of four is a mere $11.46 a day. Shocked? I was! Prior to the American Recovery & Investment Act of 2009, the daily allotment was only $7 per day.
Sadly, even with these programs, the most recent estimates show 50 million people—including almost one child in four—struggled last year to get enough to eat.
Reaching out to those in need
Panera Bread’s Day-End Dough-Nation program packages unsold bakery products at the end of each day to donate to local food banks and charities. In 2008, more than 50 million dollars worth of bread and baked goods were distributed to organizations helping to address the need for food in our local communities.
Children’s Hunger Fund Food Pak program provides a 20-pound box of food to families in need all over the world. The program allows churches and community groups the opportunity to get directly involved in helping needy families. Each member fills a box (or two). Then CHF distributes the boxes right to the doorstep of families in need all over the world.
WIC (Women Infants and Children) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Fighting hunger with your actions
- A $75 donation to Seattle-based FamilyWorks provides a two-week supply of formula, diapers, baby food and cereal for an infant. For $100, a homebound elderly person will receive 2 deliveries of canned goods and milk/produce.
- Your gift of $70 allows Meds & Foods for Kids to provide a child with one year of malnutrition treatment. This peanut-based therapeutic food is ready to eat and requires no refrigeration.
- The Bay Area Rescue Mission can provide 10 people with a hot meal this Thanksgiving for only $20.
- You can feed a pregnant or breastfeeding mother for a year, helping her children grow up healthy and strong, with a $60 donation to the Friends of the World Food Program.
This holiday, as you pause to be thankful for what you have, consider giving of your time at a local Food Bank or making a donation to help someone else who may otherwise go hungry. In my experience, it’s something you’ll always remember.
– Sarah Myers, Program Manager