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Summer time is the quintessential season for picnics, family reunions, and backyard BBQs, where food is often in abundance. As you fill up on seconds or contemplate that second piece of cake, you may not realize that 1 in 6 people in America face hunger and approximately 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table. “Food insecurity”, also known as the lack of access to have enough food for all household members, affects millions of households throughout the country, many of which have children.
Adequate nutrition is important to maintain the physical and mental health of individuals of every age, but is even more crucial for children who are still in the developmental stages. During the school year, an estimated 22 million children get free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program. However, when school is out for the summer, only about 3.9 million receive meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
Food is taken for granted, particularly if no one has ever experienced what it’s like to go hungry). Even if you’ve never faced hunger first hand, there are ways to help fight against hunger in your community during the summer months:
Donate to a Local Food Bank
Many people make food donations to their local food bank during the “season of giving”, but most food banks accept and rely on food donations year round. Each time you go to the grocery store, stock up on a few extra items to donate. While many food banks will accept whatever they get in donations, it may be a smart idea to see what items they need or would prefer to receive. Some ideas for food donations include non-perishable proteins such as peanut butter, baby items (diapers, food, and formula), healthy snack foods for kids, condiments/spices, and personal hygiene products.
Make a Monetary Donation
If you want to do something more than donating actual food, consider making a monetary donation to a summer food program in your area. You can make a one time donation or sign up to be a sponsor throughout the school year.
Utilize Your Green Thumb
In many cities throughout the country, there are community gardens, in which the harvested fruits and vegetables are donated to local food banks. If you have a green thumb or even know how to water and pull a few weeds, there’s a good chance that your help will be greatly appreciated. Additionally, if you have excess harvest at your home garden, consider donating to a food bank rather than letting your harvest go to waste.
Another good way to fight against hunger in your community is by volunteering. Whether you gather a group of friends together to help prepare a meal at a food kitchen, stock shelves at a food bank, host a food drive, or deliver meals to families with young children or senior citizens, you are actively fighting against hunger in your community.