Imagine not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Or running out of money for groceries just a few days short of your next paycheck. Or having to choose between paying rent and buying healthy food because you don’t have enough money for both. Unfortunately, that’s the daily reality for millions of people across the U.S., the majority of whom are living at, or below, the poverty level.
An astonishing 1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, and more than 46 million—including 12 million children and 7 million seniors—turn to food banks for support during the year.
Food insecurity touches nearly every community in our country, including, undoubtedly, your own. And while the holidays are an ideal time for nonprofits like Feeding America to raise money to meet the needs of those who depend on food banks, the reality is that donations to feed the hungry are needed year-round.
Watch this short video to learn how the Feeding America network operates, stretching donations to feed 46 million people every year.
How Food Insecurity Affects Kids
For families utilizing food bank services, food insecurity is just one of the many problems they may face. Financial insecurity is another. Based on annual income, 72% of the families served by the Feeding America network live at or below the federal poverty level. Children who experience hunger are at a higher risk for behavioral and social difficulties. You know those unpleasant hunger pangs you feel when you skip breakfast, or wait too long to go on your lunch break? Imagine trying to study, or build positive social skills, under such circumstances.
Over time, kids dealing with chronic hunger and food insecurity experience behavioral problems like fighting, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings, and bullying. Hungry children simply can’t thrive, and hungry children struggle even to get the minimum level of essential nutrients we’d want our own kids to have to become healthy, happy, self-confident adults.
So, how can we help kids and families in our own communities facing hunger? That’s where Feeding America (an organization Nordic Naturals supports yearly) and their network of food banks across the country can help. Feeding America administers multiple programs throughout the year to ensure that nutritious food gets into the hands of those who need it most. And, they have the unique ability—through partnerships with food suppliers and economies of scale—to turn $1 into as many as 10 meals. Just think about what an impact it would make if each person in your community donated even a few dollars—the cost of a latte—every month. That would take a healthy slice out of these hunger statistics!
Hunger beyond the Holidays
The holidays are a particularly tough time for kids and families without enough to eat. Fortunately, most people are inspired to give a little back during this time of year. Companies frequently match donations from their employees. Neighbors volunteer at local food banks. The media spreads awareness around the issue of hunger in America. People step up to help, and lots of wonderful things happen. But often, the giving stops after December 31st.
Let’s shift how we collectively think and act about hunger, and recognize that it’s a year-long battle we all need to be aware of and face. Here’s how you can support food banks all year long, and provide lasting help to those in need:
- Give today. Search for and donate directly to your local food bank.
- Give monthly. Sign up to make giving a monthly habit, and help provide meals to families facing hunger year-round.
- Volunteer with your local food bank. Donate your time to help the soup kitchens, food pantries, and meal programs that rely almost entirely on volunteers.
Once you realize how truly close to home hunger hits, the thought of giving a little all year long makes sense. You can even get creative with how you help. Challenge neighbors, friends, or coworkers to come up with fundraising ideas, or to plan fun, volunteer days to spend meaningful time together.
You’ve got the power to make a real difference in the lives of people facing hunger in your own community. Spreading the word about the widespread problem of food insecurity; donating throughout the year to support your local food banks; and volunteering your time are great ways to make that difference now and throughout the new year. We can’t think of a healthier habit to cultivate.
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