Four ways to feed the hungry

Thanksgiving Skype

Each Thanksgivingmy family makes it a priority to have dinner together. Even when I was living abroad for my first holiday away from home, my dad booted up Skype so that I could join in the festivities virtually. For us, it’s not just the meal that’s important. It’s taking time off of work, turning off our cell phones, and coming together in one place. We start by going around the table and saying what we are most grateful for. It is never difficult to think of or name our blessings—the most obvious of which is the food in front of us. It gives us a way to celebrate while satisfying our basic human need.

At Thanksgiving, more than any other time, it’s obvious there is enough food to go around. (And around and around.) While our own family’s table bursts at the seam with turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I know there are many in my own backyard of San Francisco going to sleep hungry and cold. And the number of homeless and hungry families is only growing with unemployment at a staggering 9.1 percent. That’s nearly 14 million Americans.

This Thanksgiving season, my appeal is simple. Fill someone else’s belly.

  1. Give – Donate to organizations that feed the hungry every day.
  2. Volunteer – Make it part of your family tradition to visit a soup kitchen or shelter or help out at a food bank, and combine spending time together with doing something meaningful.
  3. Share your meal – If you know a family that is struggling, invite them to join yours for dinner or stop by their home with leftovers. (Your church or a nearby school may know of a family if you don’t.)
  4. Click on The Hunger SiteBookmark the page, click daily, and sponsors pay for food.

However you choose to contribute, make it last. Volunteer throughout the year or consider making your donation monthly recurring. In these tough times, it’s no secret that hunger is an everyday problem for many.

>>Like us on Facebook for more tips and ideas on how you can give back during the holidays.
>>Visit JustGive for tips on Other Ways to Give.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Food nourishes the body. Giving nourishes the soul.

Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. Nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy quite like friends and family gathered at home, sharing laughter and memories, and eating generous helpings of my favorite comfort foods. But what makes this holiday so special to me isn’t roasted and placed on a table. Thanksgiving is a time to take a moment to appreciate the abundance in our lives, even in hard times.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my father, and the first with my daughter. Like most families, we go around the table saying what we are thankful for this year. My father always said things like, “I’m grateful to complain about going to work tomorrow, because it means I have a job” or “I’m grateful I’ll be stuck doing the dishes, because it means we had food to eat.” He truly understood what it means to give thanks. I’m grateful for the wisdom he passed on, and hope to pass it on to my daughter.

This Thanksgiving, give someone else something to be thankful for. Your generosity can provide a hot meal, a warm bed to sleep in, and comfort in a time of need.

 
Is there food in your kitchen?

The USDA announced the number of Americans who rely on food stamps has increased 17% in the last year—up to 42 million. But with $2 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, resources for hungry families are dwindling. A report from theU.S. Department of Agriculture reported nearly 6 million households—affecting as manyas 1 million children—had ongoing financial problems that forced them to miss meals regularly.

I found a few charities that are working to bridge this gap:

 

  • A $20 donation to Feeding America provides an amazing 140 meals.
  • For $35, Meals on Wheels will provide a hot meal and a comforting visit to 5 home bound seniors.
  • A $50 donation to Rubicon Programs buys a grocery bag of fresh food for a formerly homeless family moving into their new home.

 

Not just a man on the corner holding a sign

After years of record high unemployment and foreclosures, it’s likely that someone you know—a co-worker, a friend, a relative—is now without a stable place to call home. Budget cuts trickling down from a rough economy make the future uncertain for those who need a roof over their head so they can get back in their feet.

When you’re cleaning your home for visitors this holiday, consider donating to organizations helping those in need of shelter and warmth:

  • A $25 donation buys paint for a house built by Habitat for Humanity. For an additional $100 you can buy the kitchen sink, too!
  • A $35 donation to Covenant House provides clean sheets and a blanket to a homeless youth.

 

Are you a guest at Thanksgiving diner?

A charity gift card makes the perfect hostess gift! You choose the card and gift amount, and add your personal message. Your recipient uses the card to donate to any charity of their choice. For as little as $15, you can give a green gift for good!

Have something you’re thankful for that you’d like to share with friends of JustGive? Visit us on Facebook.

Then let’s spread the thanks around – Tell a Friend!

Give thanks. Give hope.

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

JustGive makes it easy to act globally or locally to make a difference:

  • 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.

Tell a friend about JustGive, and share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager