Collecting, sorting, and distributing food are components of an effective food drive. For many people who learn about the hunger issue, the natural inclination is to donate food through a food drive or other activity. This is a powerful way to engage the young and inexperienced volunteer to take action, and one that has immediate and direct impact.
Beyond the Food Drive Chapters
Another way to make a difference is to raise money for anti-hunger nonprofit organizations. While food drives are a great way to engage volunteers, many professional anti-hunger organizations can more effectively leverage cash donations to buy products, increase capacity to serve more people or invest in innovative ideas. These groups buy in bulk and/or obtain large-scale donations to feed far more people. When professional anti-hunger organizations purchase food, they buy more nutritious foods, and food they know low-income families need most.
Volunteering to help collect, sort, prepare, serve, and distribute food at a food bank, food rescue group, soup kitchen, or food pantry is a good first step in learning about hunger and can enable a wide range of people to pitch in.
Most agencies can’t host children under the age of 13 due to safety reasons, but most do accept young adults with adult supervision.
When planning, it is important to keep some of these tips in mind:
Skills-based volunteering can help build the long-term capacity of anti-hunger organizations. In 2015, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger surveyed hundreds of food pantries and soup kitchens across New York City to determine their volunteer needs. Only 11% of these feeding agencies reported that they only needed unskilled volunteers for serving, packing and distributing food. By comparison, 48% of kitchens and pantries reported needing long-term skilled volunteers to assist with projects such as technical/computer/website support, grant writing and volunteer management.
While the Board does not generally involve itself in the day-to-day activities of an organization, it does provide vital oversight functions. Board members must be individual adults (groups or businesses cannot collectively serve on Boards, but they can recruit individuals to do so). Usually some type of professional expertise and/or the ability to donate, raise money, or provide in-kind support is expected.
(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamps program) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Since the modern Food Stamp/SNAP program was created in the 1970s, it has cost-effectively prevented tens of millions of American families from going hungry when they are unemployed or earn low wages, and has pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, creating U.S.
Even though breakfast is the most important meal of the day nutritionally and many schools provide it, roughly half of the kids who receive subsidized school lunches do not receive school breakfasts. Teachers overwhelmingly believe that “there is a strong connection between eating a healthy breakfast and a student’s ability to concentrate, behave, and perform academically.”
Help fight hunger by making more fresh produce both available and affordable in low-income neighborhoods. As a volunteer, you can work to expand a Community Supported Agriculture program to serve more low-income people, provide nutrition education, lead budget grocery store tours, conduct cooking demonstrations, connect people to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) at farmers’ markets—all of which can help low-income families to obtain more fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables.
Before you can raise awareness about hunger, you need to gain an understanding of the problem. Hunger, or food insecurity, is closely associated with poverty. More than 46.7 million Americans lived below the federal poverty threshold in 2014 while more than 48 million American households—including nearly 15 million children—lived in homes that struggled to put food on the table.
Advocacy is critical to ending U.S. hunger. Getting involved at the policy level is arguably the single most effective way of volunteering to fight hunger in America. With tens of billions of dollars in anti-hunger funding at stake, government actions can dramatically increase or slash hunger and poverty overnight, sometimes with just one vote or the stroke of a pen.Contact elected officials and ask them to take specific actions to reduce hunger and the poverty that causes it.