Hunger is one of the most heartbreaking results of poverty. If all the food in the world were distributed evenly, everyone would have enough to eat. However, while some people enjoy an overabundance of food, others are starving.
Even in the United States where food is plentiful, millions of men, women, and children go to bed hungry. Approximately 35 million Americans, including 13 million children, face "food insecurity" or hunger each day.
Hunger is both caused by, and a contributor to, poverty. People become undernourished when they are unable to afford food. Hungry people have a difficult time concentrating on the work that is before them, which makes holding down a job or paying attention in school very difficult. Parents are often forced to decide whether to pay the rent or feed their hungry children.
Childhood hunger, in particular, can have lasting consequences. Babies born into families that are unable to afford proper nutrition are 25% more likely to be hospitalized during childhood. A lack of nutritious meals can also harm a child's mental and physical development.
With just a few hours of work, you can help alleviate hunger by holding a food drive in your office, neighborhood, school, or church. Almost everyone you know has a few spare cans of food just sitting in their cupboard. By collecting these non-perishable goods, you can help feed the hungry, one can at a time.
I Did This!
- Step 1: Choose a food bank or organization that accepts donations.
Most food banks are happy to distribute donations to feed the hungry in their local community. Find a food bank in your area and call to see if they have any specific requirements (such as the type of food to collect). America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest network of food banks, provides an online directory of local food banks.
- Step 2: Decide where to hold your food drive.
Schools, churches, office buildings, and neighborhoods can be successful places to conduct food drives. Be sure to get the go-ahead from whomever is in charge before you start collecting food for the poor. If you plan to hold your food drive in an office, check with the management to see if they are willing to match their employees' food donations.
- Step 3: Collect food for the hungry.
Advertise your food drive in advance so that people have plenty of time to choose food from their pantries or pick up a few extra cans when grocery shopping. Flyers, phone calls, and emails can help you get the word out. Be sure to send out follow-up reminders. You may want to run the food drive for several days in order to get as much food for the poor as possible. You don't need to be present during the food drive, but make sure the donation boxes are clearly marked. These tips for a successful food drive can help your collection run smoothly.
- Step 4: Donate the Food.
Once your food drive is over, simply make arrangements to drop off your food at a local bank. The food bank will distribute your contributions to hungry families in the community.
- Step 5: Stay Aware of Hunger Issues.
After a successful food drive, you can keep making a difference by staying aware of national hunger issues. When you have a few spare minutes, check out the latest hunger news and watch for more ways to help alleviate hunger in your neighborhood. The Center on Hunger and Poverty has updated statistics and information about hunger in America as does the Food Research and Action Center.
You may also want to remember these important events:
- National Hunger Awareness Day: Each year, anti-hunger organizations from around the country join forces and work towards a hunger-free America. You can participate in their national or local annual events. Or, consider some of their ideas on how to help 365 days of the year.
- National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive: Mailmen and women from around the country help collect food for the hungry each year. Keep an eye out for a flyer in your mailbox announcing the annual food drive. On the specified day, simply leave non-perishable food beside your mailbox.