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How to Help Fight Hunger This Thanksgiving

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Even one dollar makes a difference.

food distribution at hunger bank
John Minchillo/Associated Press via NYTimes

This post was originally published on April 10, 2020. It has been updated for the 2021 Thanksgiving season. 

Many people like to make food donations for Thanksgiving, and for good reason. Recent statistics on hunger are shocking. And hunger hits kids the hardest, particularly in this year of Covid. Here is how to help.

According to Feeding America’s 2021 estimate, “Feeding America projects that 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6), may experience food insecurity in 2021.”

Also check out: 9 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Eco-Friendly

roast chicken platter with salad and potatoes

Defined by Brookings, “Food insecurity occurs when a household has difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources.” According to No Kid Hungry, “22 million children in the United States rely on the free or reduced-price lunch they receive at school, and every one of them is eligible for free breakfast as well.”

But what can we do? Plenty. Read on.

green groceries in net bag earth day thanksgiving food donations 2020

Dos and Dont’s of Thanksgiving Food Donations

If you want consider Thanksgiving food donations, Feeding America offers helpful tips:

  • DO find your local food bank. Contact them and ask what they need most.
  • DO NOT donate home-cooked meals or supply leftovers. As a general rule, food kitchens must supply food in accordance with strict local and state food service standards.
  • DO consider donating money instead. It’s fast, easy, and allows food banks to purchase (less-expensive) bulk quantities and non-donation items like fresh produce.
  • DO organize a food drive!

Below are some specific programs that are feeding America’s hungry and need your help.

feeding hunger wck bags of food
Photo via World Central Kitchen

Where to Make Thanksgiving Food or Monetary Donations for 2021

1. World Central Kitchen

Chef José Andrés is both chef and international philanthropic powerhouse. His World Central Kitchen provides hot, nourishing meals wherever needed following a natural disaster — and now, in the wake of Covid-19.

His Chefs for America initiative helps further, linking temporarily-closed restaurants and their staffs to work feeding the hungry. A win-win. Donate HERE.

2. Feeding America

One dollar provides ten meals. That’s Feeding America’s message. The non-profit manages the largest network of food banks in the country, and seeks to feed everyone from small children to the elderly to rural populations experiencing hunger or food insecurity. Their Covid-19 efforts include partnering with school districts and local governments to ensure that the 22 million children who rely on school meals have access to food, and distribution of non-food items like cleaning supplies. Donate HERE.

3. No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry’s goal is self-explanatory. The organization’s large national network provides free meals to food-insecure kids. These meals include breakfasts, school lunches, summer meals, and after-school snacks. They also have launched a multimillion-dollar Covid-specific response that includes local grants and lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Donate HERE.

food distribution at hunger bank donations for thanksgiving 2020
Photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

4. Catalyst Kitchens

FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens initiative does double duty helping underprivileged populations. First, they provide stable, foodservice job training to homeless people, recovering addicts, and the formerly incarcerated. These trainees, volunteers, and staff then prepare nutritious meals for low-income adults and children in their communities. Catalyst uses this dual approach toward its ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of joblessness, hunger, and poverty. Donate HERE.

kitchen employee with basin
Photo via FareStart

5. Meals on Wheels

Seniors are an extremely high-risk demographic for Covid-19. Meals on Wheels continues to do its job personally delivering free meals to senior citizens nationwide. Delivering these meals does more than feed America’s seniors; it also combats social isolation, promotes better health, and combats hunger. Senior citizens are an at-risk population that grows every day. Donate HERE.

How to Find Other Worthy Organizations to Fight Hunger

If there is another philanthropic area that interests you, or if you want to find more local organizations fighting hunger, a great first stop is Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator evaluates and rates charities according to their efficiency in using donated funds and by their commitment to good practices and transparency. It is also a great way to search for a charity that speaks to you.

This New York Times article by Nick Kristof offers well-researched suggestions across a range of worthy causes, such as hunger, providing clinics with clean water, and supporting Native Americans’ health.

food distribution site thanksgiving 2020 donations
Photo via World Central Kitchen

Will you be making any Thanksgiving food donations in 2021? Where?

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