55 Things You Can Do To Fight Hunger In America Gallery

As the holiday season arrives, most of us prepare to be overwhelmed with festive parties and family dinners. For millions of people, though, the holidays just mean more hunger. The USDA estimated that "11.8 percent (15 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2017." The very real and preventable existence of hunger in America — and worldwide — is something that should be on the forefront of everyone's minds, not just during the holidays, of course, but especially now.

At The Daily Meal, our motto is "All things food and drink." It's important that we use our platform to shine a light on all food topics, not just the pleasures of good eating and the overabundance so many of us enjoy but also the scarcity of food in so many people's lives. Read on for action you can take to make a difference.

Adopt 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 all to the Oregon Food Bank.

Attend a Food Fight

The Capital Food Fight is an annual event to help end hunger. Eighty of Washington, D.C.'s best restaurants offer tastings, while spectators watch local top chefs compete in a live onstage battle hosted and judged by the biggest names in the culinary world. The event just celebrated its 15th year, and is the brainchild of chef José Andrés, with 100 percent of event proceeds benefitting the DC Central Kitchen.

Bank Those Rewards Points

Many banks allow you to redeem your rewards points for charity donations, instead of the typical cash back or gifts. Through Citibank, you can use your points to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people across the country affected by natural disasters.

Be an Extreme Coupon-er

Use free online coupons from sites such as Coupons.com to purchase a surplus of goods, and donate the extra to your local food pantry. This way, when you score a deal on multiple cans of soup, you'll be helping to feed those who really need it.

Buy Fair Trade Items

The Hunger Site is an activism website that sells fair trade items, including seasonal home décor and everyday goods, to benefit participating charities like Food Recovery Network, Millennium Promise, and Mercy Corps. Proceeds are split between the organizations and go toward fighting hunger in the United States, as well as in more than 74 countries around the world. Between 3 percent and 50 percent of the retail price of every item bought on The Hunger Site store will be given to their charity partners.

Clean the Kitchen

Food banks distribute millions of pounds of food per year, but who does the cleanup? Those who do the washing and cleaning are the unsung heroes of any food bank operation, and are a vital part of the organization. Volunteer to help deep-clean kitchen cabinets, power-wash crates, and scrub walk-in coolers. Food for People, the food bank of Humboldt County, California, encourages volunteers to help with these less glamourous tasks.

Coffee With a Cause

Starbucks has made a groundbreaking pledge to rescue 100 percent of donatable food from their U.S. company-operated stores. More than 8,000 stores will donate unsold, ready-to-eat food to Feeding America, an organization that will coordinate the distribution of the food to its massive network of food banks across the country.

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's ideals 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 a percentage of the cost of the celebration to the organization.

Create Art With Canned Food

Canstuction is a charity that holds annual competitions in which participants design and build giant structures made of canned foods. All of the canned foods used in the competitions are then donated to local food banks and hunger relief organizations.

Dine in Someone Else's Shoes

To get some perspective and spread awareness, attend or take a friend 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 anything ranging from a full dinner to a sparse portion of rice and water to share. An average of 600 Oxfam Hunger Banquets are held every year in cities across the U.S. Visit oxfamamerica.org to find a hunger banquet near you.

Do Lunch

Volunteer by donating the time normally spent on your lunch break to Meals on Wheels programs across the country. Deliver nutritious meals during your lunch hour to seniors who can no longer cook for themselves, or who are unable to get out of their houses or apartments.

Donate Leftover Bread

If you are a bread baker and have leftovers at the end of the day, get your organization involved in Panera's Day-End Dough-Nation. In this program, unsold bakery products are packaged at the end of each day and donated to local food banks and charities.

Drive to End Hunger

Make a donation to Drive to End Hunger to assist low-income seniors affected by hunger. With the help of NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports, four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, and NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, the AARP Foundation has donated more than 37 million meals, helping the issue of food insecurity among older adults.

Eat Less Meat

Every day, pounds upon pounds of grain are used to feed animals in factory farms. It takes about 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of edible meat. The grain that is fed to farm animals could instead be donated to help feed the world's hungry, and there would be plenty left over. To learn more, read Francis Moore Lappé's fascinating book, Diet for a Small Planet.

Educate Yourself

With education comes the power to change. Visit Rise Against Hunger to learn hunger facts, read inspirational quotes, and find a detailed reading list full of books and websites, for people of all different ages, to learn more about hunger.

Feed Infants

By donating to The Hunger Coalition, you can help feed undernourished babies. The Infant Formula Initiative began in 2005 to help mothers who were not able to provide their newborns with enough to eat. The Hunger Coalition has distributed the equivalent of 24,990 bottles of infant formula to babies in need.

Get a Haircut

Follow the lead of La John's Grooming and Sola Salons in Charlotte, North Carolina, and create a C.A.N.S. 4 Cuts drive ("Caring About Needs in Society"). Partner your hair salon or barber shop with a local food bank and set up a barter system for a good cause.

Get Moving

Move for Hunger takes the hassle out of the moving process and takes care of all the nonperishable food you might otherwise throw away. Its team of dedicated movers will pick up your unopened, nonperishable foods during your moving process and deliver them to a local food bank. The organization works with more than 1,00 moving companies in North America.

Get on Pinterest

A lot of us spend far too much time on Pinterest already, so let's make a difference while we pin. Share ideas with others and create your own movement to fight hunger. Pin to boards about events in your city, share an inspiring story, or share videos of hunger fighters.

Get Out and Glean

A religious-based 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 arranged networks of volunteers to salvage surplus produce, including crops left in the field after harvest, from farms all over the nation. Gleaning, as this activity is known, dates back to biblical times. Each year, 35,000-40,000 unpaid workers from schools, churches, synagogues, and other institutions around America help collect food.

Go Hunting

Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry brings fresh meat and vegetables to the needy. Those who are living without food security often don't eat fresh meat because it's too expensive, but FHFH is looking to change that. All meats (game that's hunted by volunteers) and vegetables harvested by this organization are donated to soup kitchens and local aids.

Go to the Grocery Store

Grocery stores in the New York City area are making a tremendous impact by encouraging shoppers to donate to local food banks at the most opportune moment: when their wallet is out. While checking out at participating grocery stores, shoppers may select a donation coupon in $1, $3, or $5 denominations, and the cashier will scan the coupon along with the groceries. The tax-deductible donation will be added to your bill and will appear on your receipt. Click here to find participating stores.

Grow Your Local Garden

Grow food locally by getting involved in community gardening projects. Not only does this project help provide food for your neighborhood, it also teaches kids how to garden and be self-sufficient. All food grown can be given back to community members who need it or donated to local food banks. The American Community Gardening Association can help you find a garden and get started.

Hold a Bake Sale

Bake up sweet treats to raise funds to help stop child hunger with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. You can also visit their website to find existing bake sales in your neighborhood.

Host a Movie Screening

Nourish: Food + Community is an important film that has won awards and recognition for its illustration of the role food plays in the world and how it is connected to biodiversity, climate change, public health, social justice, and our personal lives. By hosting a screening of the film, or similar films regarding food and hunger, you can help start a conversation about food and sustainability in your community.

Involve the Employers

Many employers will match the donations that you give, which will effectively double the contribution to ending hunger. But don't just stop at your workplace: Talk to neighboring businesses and get the entire community involved in the fight.

Join an Online Community

Join the World Food Programme's Online Community to receive newsletters, updates, email alerts, and information on opportunities to help end hunger, not only in the United States but worldwide.

Label, Sort, and Package

Food Lifeline is an organization dedicated to eradicating hunger in western Washington State. They are always looking for individuals and groups to help repackage food for their food pantries and also for help with community events.

Lead a Grocery Store Tour

Eating healthy on a budget is possible. Help families learn to cook and shop for healthy, affordable, delicious meals by leading a grocery store tour in your community. Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters at the Store tours empower families by arming them with the skills to compare foods for cost and nutrition.

Leave a Gift in Your Will

As the hunger coalition wisely says, a little planning now will make a big difference for generations to come. For more information on including The Hunger Coalition in your will, visit The Hunger Coalition website. They can help you realize your philanthropic vision and leave a legacy of wholesome food and hope for future generations.

Make It Your Career

We all need to gain experience and earn a paycheck, so why not do it while making a difference at the same time? Visit the websites of various hunger organizations to learn about career opportunities. Alliance to End Hunger's career page is a great place to learn about jobs and internships. Their members include corporations, universities, foundations, faith-based groups, and nonprofits, to name a few.

Pack a Meal

Rise Against Hunger hosts meal-packing events that allow volunteers from schools, corporations, civic groups, and colleges and universities to gain hands-on experience in the fight against hunger. Volunteers work on packing meals and raising awareness.

Pick Some Fruit

Food Forward is a volunteer-powered grassroots group based in Southern California dedicated to reconnecting to our food system and making change in urban hunger issues. They rescue fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste and donate 100 percent of the fruit to the hungry. Food Forward is always on the lookout for volunteers and neighbors with mature fruit trees and an excess fruit or vegetables.

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.

‘Point’ Yourself in the Right Direction

PointWorthy provides a platform for consumers to accumulate and donate loyalty points to causes they support and believe in. According to PointWorthy, "there are $50 billion worth of loyalty points distributed every year," yet "close to 30 percent go unredeemed." There are hundreds of charities to support, and by using the search feature on their website, it's easy to find a local hunger organization in your area that could really use the help.

Relay Food to the Needy

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 15 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.

Round Up

Pampered Chef's Round-Up from the Heart campaign encourages shoppers, when checking out on their site, to "round-up" their orders to the nearest dollar. The extra amount is donated to the Feeding America network food bank located closest to where you shop. Visit pamperedchef.com to find out more ways to help.

Save a Potato

The Society of St. Andrew salvages truckloads of imperfect, slightly blemished potatoes and produce from potato chip factories and commercial markets, saving them from ending up in landfills and instead directing them to churches, low-income housing areas, and food banks. Support the Potato and Produce Project and their other good works by visiting their website.

Search for Good

Why Google when you can Good? GoodSearch is a free, Yahoo-powered search engine that donates 50 percent of its revenue to charities such as Action Against Hunger and The Hunger Project. You can also find coupons and offers on all sorts of goods and services on their GoodShop page.

See a Show

Givenik.com is a site where you can purchase discount tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway shows while supporting your favorite charity, including hunger organizations like City Harvest and New York Cares. Five percent of the ticket price goes directly to the charity of your choice.

Send a Holiday Card

Take care of this yearly holiday task and fight hunger at the same time! Buy printed or electronic holiday cards through the Food Bank for New York City. Custom-print your own message in one of many designs, and even opt for vellum inserts, to give your envelopes extra pizzazz. Each purchase not only supports the food bank but helps spread the organization's message.

Share the Leftovers

Instead of throwing out the lasagna you couldn't finish, share the leftovers with a neighbor or someone in need on your street. Rising food prices are causing many families to go without, so put your Tupperware to good use.

Share Your Talents

Many of us possess specialized skills that could be put to great use at food pantries and homeless shelters. Not just cooking but website and graphic design, accounting, writing, and social media skills are all needed in the fight against hunger. Think outside the box and come up with a list of ways that you and your friends could donate your skills to benefit hunger organizations. Serving hot meals and passing out canned food are very helpful and important, but there are lots of ways to make a difference.

Shop With a Smile

Millions of people shop Amazon on a regular basis, but did you know that every purchase is a chance to do some real good? Register for Amazon Smile, and the Smile Foundation will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price of your items to an organization of your choice, such as the Connecticut Food Bank and The Hunger Project.

Shop With Aldi

Aldi has a long history of partnership with Feeding America, and distributes disaster relief boxes to victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters. Each box is filled with more than 35 Aldi products, including their private label canned goods, granola, and peanut butter. Visit a local Aldi store to find out more about their community programs.

Show Support on Social Media

Retweet or repost relevant articles and photos about hunger solutions on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow Rise Against Hunger and World Food Programme on your favorite social media platforms.

Start a Petition

Making a difference happens one person at a time. You can pledge to fight hunger this year by starting a petition on Change.org. For each signature you receive, ask for the pledge of a donation. The more signatures you get, a greater difference will be made in the worldwide initiative to end hunger.

Start an Online Food Drive

No matter where you live in America, chances are there's a food drive going on nearby — and if there isn't, you can start your own. Although traditional food drives are limited to nonperishable goods, you can also donate healthier food such as fruit and vegetables through You Give Goods. On the organization's website, you can set up an online food drive at no cost. People buy food on the site to donate to your drive, and You Give Goods delivers the food for you.

Take a Quiz

For every quiz question you answer correctly on freerice.com, 10 grains of rice will be donated to the United Nations World Food Programme. If you get an answer wrong, you're given an easier question, and if you get one right, you're given a harder one. This brain-teaser is a fun, simple way to give back.

Take a Walk

Thousands of 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. There are plenty of chances to get involved and work toward their cause of "ending hunger one step at a time."

Throw a Party

Part of the Solution (POTS) is a Bronx, New York-based organization that aims to help those in need rebuild their lives. Use your party or event to benefit POTS. They help make it easy with ideas and resources. POTS offers many important, free services, including a community dining room, food pantry, legal clinic, shower facilities, and holiday meals and gifts.

Use Your Apps

TangoTab is an app that gives users access to local deals at their favorite restaurants. Not only is the app free, the best part is that every time you 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."

Use Your Voice and Art

WhyHunger supports many programs, including Artists Against Hunger & Poverty, which allows the artistic and music community to use their voices to support the movement to end hunger and poverty. More than $13 million has been raised to support organizations fighting hunger in communities all across the world.

Volunteer Year-Round

Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular times to volunteer, because it's difficult to see people going hungry around the holidays. But food banks and homeless shelters need an extra hand 365 days a year, not just in November and December. Pick an off-season day to dedicate yourself to lending a hand. You could even start a tradition of volunteering every year on your birthday or on the anniversary of a family member or beloved pet's passing, in their honor.

Write to Your Legislator

Email, write, or call your members of Congress to urge them to address food-insecurity issues among current and former service members. By visiting Mazon, you can fill out an online letter to be sent to Congress and help to end hunger for military families who struggle to put food on the table. José Andrés is just one of many people fighting hunger in America, and around the world. Here are 18 reasons why he is the hero we need right now.

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