44 Things You Can Do to Help Fight Hunger in America Slideshow
October 24, 2012
1. Skip Lunch
Each spring, City Harvest sponsors its New York City-wide Skip Lunch Fight Hunger initiative, asking people to brown-bag it for one day a year and then donate the money they would have spent on lunch to the organization. City Harvest calculated that with a mere $10, the amount an average New Yorker spends on lunch, they can feed more than 37 hungry children. To get involved in next year's event, email Raquel Pinheiro at email@example.com.
You can also help with City Harvest's Daily News Readers Care to Feed the Hungry Food Drive, which collects nonperishable food to stock city food pantries and soup kitchens. This food drive runs from Nov. 12 through Jan. 4 this year. Click here for more information.
2. Label, Sort, and Package
Food Lifeline, an organization dedicated to eradicating hunger in Western Washington, is looking for groups, ranging in size from eight to 60 people, to sign up to help label, sort, and repackage food for distribution at their Shoreline, Wash., warehouse. Food Lifeline provides food to participating banks and shelters locally, but this is an idea that could be replicated anywhere across the country.
3. Go Out to Dinner
Dine Out Against Hunger, organized by Project Hospitality, is a nationwide effort that began in Staten Island, N.Y, and is now popping up in different cities across the country. Depending on your state’s event date and participating restaurants in your area, up to 20 percent of your bill could go to your local food bank.
4. Drive and Deliver
Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to act as drivers and runners in cities all over the U.S. and in a number of Canadian cities. All you have to do is pick up food at a central Meals on Wheels (MOW) location, and then deliver it to recipients of the program. MOW works specifically to aid senior citizens that are in need of nourishing meals.
5. Take a Walk
Some 2,000 communities across the country participate in CROP Hunger Walks each year, raising funds for local hunger-fighting organizations and agencies, as well as international relief efforts. With more than 1,600 walks a year, there are plenty of chances to get involved and work toward their cause of "Ending Hunger One Step at a Time."
6. Walk or Run
It seems fitting that one of the major hunger-fighting outdoor charity events in California would be located in Stockton, in the heart of the state's Central Valley, source of the vast majority of many of the food crops we consume (including tomatoes, grapes, asparagus, and almonds, but about 230 kinds of produce in all). This grassroots organization hosts its eighth annual Run and Walk Against Hunger on Nov. 22. Events include a 5K run, a 5K walk (not timed), and 10K run, and a quarter mile (.4K if you want to be consistent) kids' run for children 9 and under. Proceeds, benefiting holiday nutrition programs by the Emergency Food Bank of Stockton/San Joaquin, are generated by entry fees, pledges from participants' friends and family (and from the runners and walkers themselves), and corporate sponsorships (Heinz, a major local employer, is among the latter).
7. Teach a Cooking Class
Calling all chefs and nutritionists! You can put your expertise to good use and volunteer to teach a course in Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters program. The program guides participants through the process of making nutritious and cost-effective meals for their families. Click here to sign up.
Another Share Our Strength initiative, their No Kid Hungry campaign, connects kids in need with nutritious foods, and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending childhood hunger a national priority through various campaigns, partnerships, and projects. To find out what events and projects you can help with, click here.
8. Get Your Hair Cut
Follow the lead of Farrer's Barber Shop in Charlotte, N.C., and create a C.A.N.S. 4 Cuts drive (C.A.N.S. stands for "Caring About Needs in Society"). Partner your hair salon with a local food bank and make a barter system happen for a good cause.
9. Buy a Bowl of Soup
With Empty Bowls, the premise is simple: Purchase a bowl of soup, in an original bowl created by a local artist, and proceeds will in turn help organizations provide meals to those who need them. Empty Bowl events take place at local schools, parks, community centers, etc., and are planned for November alone in at least 14 venues, including Merced, Calif.; Crawfordville, Fla.; Lebanon, Tenn.; Bryan, Texas; and even Ensenada, Mexico. Your purchased bowl becomes a keepsake and a reminder that there are always empty bowls to be filled in America.
10. Play a Trivia Game
Blending Americas passions football, food, and helping others Krafts Huddle to Fight Hunger requires only a "Like" and your participation in a "2-Minute Trivia Drill" game on Facebook to do your part. Each point earned in the game is equivalent to one meal donation to Feeding America.
11. Tell the World What You Had for Breakfast
In an effort to share 1 million breakfasts with children who need them, Kellogg’s asks you to share your breakfast — digitally. A simple share of what you ate for breakfast on Kellogg's Facebook tab will prompt a donation to Action for Healthy Kids, and a follow-up tweet and another share will do even more. Join the conversation and help promote active and healthy breakfasts for those who need them most.
12. Get Out and Glean
A religious-based but ecumenical nonprofit charitable organization, the Society of St. Andrew takes as its motto "Gleaning America's Fields — Feeding America's Hungry." Since 1983, the organization has organized networks of volunteers to salvage surplus produce from farms all over the nation. Gleaning, as this activity is known, dates back to Biblical times. Each year, about 30,000 unpaid workers from schools, churches, synagogues, and other institutions around America help collect more than 15 million pounds of fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted.
13. Buy Some Seeds
The Dinner Garden sends recipients enough seeds to provide fresh produce for a whole year (for families of up to seven people) — for just $5. Seed packs are customized by location of the recipient, ensuring that the produce can grow in the region. (Growth is key here!) Click here to help.
14. Pick Some Fruit
Food Forward, an organization dedicated to reconnecting to our food system and making change around urban hunger, is on the lookout for neighbors with mature fruit trees and excess fruit and vegetables to share with those in need. They give 100 percent of all fruit harvested to local food pantries. Visit the site to learn more.
15. Plant Some Produce
Connecticut Food Bank’s Plant a Row for the Hungry program enables farmers and community gardeners to plant an extra row of produce to donate to local hunger-relief efforts. Plant a Row also works with local farmers' markets, farms, and orchards to collect unsold, wholesome produce for food-assistance programs.
16. Start (or Join) a Food Drive
No matter where you live in America, chances are there's a food drive going on not far away — and if there isn't, you can start your own. You Give Goods has produced a free video about how to set up an online food (or money for food) donation enterprise, and also lists hundreds of ongoing ones. The organization's website gives detailed instructions for anyone from an experienced drive-runner to a complete beginner, and they promise that you can set your drive up in a matter of minutes, tailoring the recipients to any charity or nonprofit in their system (any that aren't already listed will be vetted within about a day).
17. Listen to the Radio
You won't have to put on your running shoes to participate in this marathon. The popular Denver radio hosts Dom Testa and Jane London, on Mix 100 (officially KIMN-AM) — named the region's Best Morning DJs — will stay on the air for 24 hours straight this Nov. 23 and 24, trying to beat last year's record of $706,750 raised for the Food Bank of the Rockies. This will be the 14th year the two personalities have done their 24-hour stint; in that time they've raised almost $5.75 million in all. Listen to their show, get inspired, and donate on the Food Bank website. You don't even have to live in the Denver area; the station streams live at Mix100.com.
18. Grow a School Garden
One of Schools Fight Hunger's programs helps students create school gardens, where they can team up with classmates and teachers to grow seasonal fruits and vegetables to donate to a local food bank.
19. Adopt Some Farmland
Become a partner in the fight against hunger by adopting an acre of farmland with Adopt-an-Acre, organized by Oregon-based Farmers Ending Hunger. Contributions are used to cover the costs associated with product sorting, canning, and freezing to extend the life of fresh produce, processing wheat to make pancake mix, storing food, and delivering it to the Oregon Food Bank.
20. Blog About Hunger
WhyHunger just launched a new partnership this year with a group of food bloggers committed to the fight against hunger. The program, called Bloggers Without Borders, supports organizations that work to address the injustices of our food system. The team uses their ability to raise awareness in the blogging community to help further the goals of food-related organizations. Read more about what part you can play here.
21. Get Moving
Move for Hunger takes the hassle out of the moving process and takes care of all the non-perishable food you might otherwise throw away. Their team of dedicated movers will pick up your unopened, non-perishable foods during your moving process, and will deliver them to a local food bank. The organization works with more than 350 moving companies in North America. All you have to do is move.
22. Eat Like the Poorest Americans
To get some perspective and share awareness, attend or take someone to an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet. Guests randomly draw tickets that assign them to tables of different income levels, based on statistics about the number of people living in poverty. Depending on where you sit, you'll receive a full dinner or share sparse portions of rice and water.
23. Collect Food and Money
Grind Out Hunger is a Santa Cruz, Calif., campaign created by skateboarders that aims to challenge local elementary, middle, and high schools to collect food and raise money for hungry children. The school that raises the most pounds of food per student is awarded gift certificates to Santa Cruz Skate and Surf Shop and SkateWorks Skate Shop with the total valued at $1,800.
24. Buy Things at Discount
Moolala is a daily deals website offering deep discounts on everything from 1,600-thread-count sheet sets to customized bobbleheads to iPhone zoom lenses. On an ongoing basis throughout the year, the site will donate 2 percent of every purchase amount to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which provides food to 640 agencies around the LA area, including senior centers, food banks, AIDS hospices, soup kitchens, battered women shelters, and more.
25. Go Bowling
Maybe you've already taken part in one of Project Bread’s Walks for Hunger, dedicated to ending hunger in Massachusetts, but have you gotten involved in their Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-thon? Register as a team captain and then recruit friends, family, and co-workers as teammates with the goal of raising $650 or more per lane. Then join Project Bread on Oct. 30 to raise money to help Boston locals get through the tough winter months that lie ahead.
26. Stomp Grapes
Get inspired by Truckee, Calif.'s Sierra Senior Services’ Stomp Out Hunger Grape Stomp and start a Stomp Out in your own city. Teams are pitted against each other in grape-stomping competitions to raise money for the local Meals on Wheels chapters and Senior Nutrition Programs.
27. Collect and Distribute
Volunteer with The Hunger Coalition, a nonprofit organization that, among other hunger relief goals, aims to provide kid-friendly single-serving food items to children who otherwise may not have enough to eat when outside the safety net of school meal programs. You can collect food, pack bags, or offer to distribute the food to participating schools and students in your community.
28. Watch a Food Fight
DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight pits great chefs against each other in Iron Chef-like tournaments using secret ingredients. There are also tastings of signature dishes from dozens of Washington, D.C.'s hottest restaurants. The event benefits DC Central Kitchen's job training, meal distribution, and support for local food systems.
29. Buy Fair Trade Stuff
The Hunger Site is an online activism website that sells fair trade items, including seasonal home décor, African products, and everyday goods, to benefit participating charities like Feeding America, Millennium Promise, and Mercy Corps. Proceeds are split between the organizations and go toward fighting hunger in more than 74 countries around the world.
30. Make a Donation
Make a donation to Wholesome Wave. Through partnerships with more than 60 community-based organizations, Wholesome Wave programs increase access to affordable, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables for underserved communities. The organization is active in 28 states and the District of Columbia, with more than 300 participating farm-to-retail venues. Their Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) uses private donations to double the value of federal food assistance benefits when spent at farmers' markets.
31. Collect Money at Your Party
MAZON, which means "food" or "sustenance" in Hebrew, is a national Jewish organization dedicated exclusively to fighting hunger. Include MAZON in your celebrations, be they weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, anniversaries, or birthdays, by integrating MAZON's donation request forms into your party, or by donating 3 percent of the cost of the celebration to the organization. In doing this, as the MAZON website puts it, "You honor the Jewish tradition of not eating until you have provided for the poor."
32. Rock Out
This vigorous locally focused organization, New Orleans Artists Against Hunger & Homelessness,NOAAHH for short, was founded by New Orleans music deities Allen Toussaint and Aaron Neville in 1985. Throughout the year, the organization stages a number of concerts and other events to benefit more than 40 local agencies that serve the needy in this gastronomic paradise of a city that ironically also boasts the eighth-highest food hardship rate (defined as a lack of money for families to buy food they need) in the nation. NOAAHH's major annual event used to be a black-tie-optional affair called Backstage, featuring catered food and top musical stars (past participants have included not just Toussaint and Neville but Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Little Freddie King, and Jimmy Buffett). There's no Backstage this year, but NOAAHH plans a star-lit gala early in 2013. Donate money to them in the meantime, or watch their website for more details.
33. Be a Food Runner
Food Runners volunteers pick up excess perishable and prepared food from restaurants, caterers, bakeries, hospitals, event planners, corporate cafeterias, and hotels in San Francisco and deliver more than 10 tons of food a week to shelters and neighborhood programs that feed the hungry. Visit their site to become a food runner and work to alleviate hunger.
34. Bake Bread
If you are a bread baker and have leftovers at the end of the day, get your organization involved in Panera's Operation Dough-Nation. In this program, unsold bakery products are packaged at the end of each day and donated to local food banks and charities. In 2010, Panera's bakery-cafés donated more than $100 million worth of bread and baked goods to charitable organizations dedicated to helping the hungry.
35. Stay Updated Online
Keep up to date with projects and efforts on the Feeding America website to join in the mission "to feed America's hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger." Even just a $1 donation can provide the equivalent of eight meals to hungry people.
36. Pack a Box
From Nov. 12 through 21, LifeNet4Families, which serves Broward County, Fla., (the Fort Lauderdale area), providing a variety of services to families in need, is looking for volunteers to help sort produce, pack holiday food boxes, and load those boxes into cars at the charity's drive-thru distribution center in Plantation.
37. Help Walmart
Walmart, in conjunction with Feeding America, launched "Fighting Hunger Together" in 2010, a $2 billion commitment through 2015 to help fight hunger in America. They're combating the issue by using their size and resources to provide nutritious food to those in need and by granting funding to nonprofits through the Walmart Foundation. Learn more about how you can help here.
38. Watch a Video
During the 2013 Ford Escape Hunger Drive, the company invited people to host hunger drives fully supported by Ford. The auto giant promised to donate 40 meals per event attendee, totaling more than 1.2 million meals this year. Although all events are now full, you can still show your support — by simply registering on their site and watching a quick video, you can donate 40 meals to Feeding America.
40. Read a Blog
A key to fighting hunger in America is creating awareness about the issue hunger. Blogs like Second Harvest Heartland's blog.2harvest.org work to keep Americans informed on major issues and provide inspiration for getting involved. Check out the site for programs, opportunities, and ideas that you can bring to your own city.
41. Celebrate Food Day
October 24th is Food Day, and the Food Day website has tons of ideas and ways for everyone to get involved in ending U.S. hunger. But you can make any day a personal Food Day. Visit the site to check out events around the country and learn about how you can make your own. With opportunities for everything from hosting to volunteering to sharing, you are sure to find a way to join in the action.
42. Use an App
Tango Tab is no-fee, subscriber-based app and website that gives users access to local deals at their favorite restaurants. Not only is the app free, but the best part is that every time claim an offer from the app, TangoTab donates a meal to local food banks and hunger-related charities. The app's tagline says it best: "When you eat, they eat." Click here to get the app and learn more.
43. Rescue Excess Food
Table to Table, a community-based food rescue program, collects prepared and perishable food that might otherwise be wasted in Northeast New Jersey. The organization is the first and only in the area to act as a food rescue program, directly redistributing foods to more than 50 agencies throughout the area.
This organization is also going to be featured in the Hale and Hearty Chef Series, which presents six different events featuring six different chefs, soups, and charities throughout six weeks. Table to Table will be championed by chef David Burke from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4.
Visit their site to find out more about what you can do to help.
44. Come Up with Your Own Ideas
Be a trailblazer. Come up with your own ideas on how to effect change and feed the hungry, whether it's in your own community or across the country. Comment on this story with your best ideas on how to fight hunger.