For many of us, summer is a time to relax and enjoy the warmer weather, slower schedules, and more than likely a cookout or two. But for the 49 million Americans identified as “food insecure” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), summer is no trip to the beach. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation for them, but in fact intensifies.
One of the primary reasons for the increased need for food assistance during summer is because federal breakfast and lunch support programs are only in operation during the school year. That translates into 21 million children missing out on free or reduced-price meals from June till September.
Adults and seniors need assistance too. According to a Hunger in America study, the majority of the clients being served by the Feeding America network (54%) have visited a food pantry in six or more months during the prior year. Also, more than half (56%) of elderly clients aged 65+ have used a pantry every month within the prior year.
Ways To Help
There are many easy and fulfilling ways we all can help, such as:
- Donate foods and essential toiletries to your local food bank or pantry. According to Hunger in America 2014, 58,000 food pantries, meal service programs, and other charitable food programs are available to assist the food insecure in virtually every community in the U.S. That’s up from only 200 food banks in 1980.
- While non-perishable items are typically the norm. Ample Harvest has a list of pantries that accept the excess bounty from home gardens.
- Consider giving a monetary donation. Feeding America has suggestions for several ways one can donate.
- Place a vote in the Pastapalooza V Market Basket Challenge to Help Fight Hunger! Throughout the summer, bloggers will be challenged to use the ingredients in the Market Baskets to create original pasta salad, side dish or summer entrée recipes. Fans and friends will vote for their favorite recipe from each category, with the winning blogger receiving a $1,000 donation to their local food bank/pantry; a $200 donation will go to the food bank of choice of the remaining bloggers. One randomly-drawn fan/participant from each challenge who voted will win a family pack of Dreamfields + a $1,000 donation to their local food bank/pantry.
- Contact your local chapter of these organizations and donate your time to help fight hunger: Ample Harvest, Feeding America, Salvation Army, Why Hunger.