Hunger is a pervasive issue in the U.S. Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 35 million people struggled with hunger, including more than 10 million children, according to Feeding America. The organization estimates that the numbers of food insecure people may rise to more than 54 million people and 18 million children in 2020.
This food-focused time of year is a great time to help solve the hunger crisis through safe volunteer opportunities. Consider these ways to help others find the food they need.
Contact your local food bank or food pantry
These organizations may have virtual volunteer opportunities or ideas for safe ways to volunteer to end hunger. Keep in mind that they may also need behind-the-scenes administrative or other office help that can be done at home. So, if you’re willing to do some graphic design, legal, volunteer management, bookkeeping, or social media work, you could use your talents to fight hunger.
While you’re communicating with your local food bank or pantry, find out the best contact information for families in need of food. In addition, AARP Foundation offers other resources. AARP Foundation’s Local Assistance Directory is an easy-to-use, online tool designed to help people find food, housing, health, and employment programs in their community. Share that information on social media, and encourage others to do the same. You might also make flyers to distribute to local businesses. (Be sure to wear a mask when you do.) Sometimes, it’s hard to tell who needs help, and that information may benefit someone who’s reluctant to ask.
Organize a food drive
Contact your local food bank or pantry and find out what items they need most. Then, organize a virtual food drive. You can either have them drop off the items directly to the organization or conduct a contact-free drop-off to your home.
Drive for Meals on Wheels
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some areas need Meals on Wheels volunteers to deliver food to homebound people.
Sponsor a hungry family
The Family-to-Family program augments federal and local food aid to help hungry families. Each month, one family sponsors another family with a monthly contribution to Family-to-Family. The organization provides groceries to families in need. Alternatively, volunteers can form a local chapter to send monthly food boxes to families in need. Local chapters typically include five to 10 families.
Become a hunger hotline volunteer
Hunger-Free America needs help crowd-sourcing the most current food resources and assistance to create a comprehensive database that will be available to everyone who needs assistance. Volunteers verify emergency food site data by calling the provider and completing a survey. A weekly orientation is held to make it easy for volunteers to get started. The organization also staffs the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) hunger hotline, connecting callers with emergency food providers in their community, as well as government assistance programs, and various social services. The organization has an ongoing need for bi-lingual English and Spanish-speaking volunteers to staff the hotline.
Ending hunger requires more than food pantries and donations. Learn more abut how you can contact your legislators to act and help end hunger through public policy.
With the gift of your time and effort, you can safely help hungry families during this holiday season and beyond. For even more volunteer opportunities, search here.