Volunteering and Feeding Families

I write a food blog because I feel that food brings people together.  So, what happens when a family finds themselves in a situation where they suddenly have to decide between buying groceries and paying the utility bills?  It may be difficult, but many do find their way to their local food pantry seeking assistance.

Our family has been volunteering with Interfaith Food Pantry here in New Jersey for several years.  I've gotten to know several of the lovely, caring folks who work there and am honored to be able to help in any way that they need each year.

I have been  planning on talking about how we can all find ways to help our local food pantries this holiday season (and throughout the year - the need is just as strong all year long, but people often forget once the holidays are finished).   Today, I read a post that a friend on Facebook shared about how the person who needs help feeding their family can be ANYONE ... check out this post by Scary Mommy.  After reading this post I felt compelled to get the word out sooner than planned.

Since we had just volunteered to help sort food and check expiration dates on pantry staples last weekend, this post struck a cord with me.  I love when I see unique items donated or specific ethnic foods because the families who are receiving the food will have the option to choose something that will make a dinner more special one night.  This is something so many of us take for granted. All we have to do is add a few extra "special" items to our cart while shopping each week.

Just hearing the stories of the people who come into our food pantry for assistance makes it even more real.  In some cases, their clients used to be supporters and volunteers.  It might be due to losing a job due to the economic downturn and replacing it with a lower paying job just to ensure that the bills can be paid.  Others are finding that their retirement savings have dwindled and now they are relying on social security alone to cover their expenses.  While there are still others who have had unexpected health issues that have eaten away at their savings or required them to reduce their hours working.

So, you may be asking yourself... what can I do to help?  There are many ways you can help from sending monetary donations to your local food pantry, to running a fundraiser or running a food drive.  During this holiday season when you may be hosting a party at your home, ask all those invited to bring a grocery bag of food to donate to those who may be struggling even more during the holidays. Check your local food bank for their needs and hours when donations can be received.

Not sure where your local food bank is... check out Feeding America, you can select your state and narrow the results down to what's closest to you.

Don't let your generosity stop when the holidays are over this year... families are struggling all year long and as noted in Scary Mommy's post (link is above), what is available can be hit-or-miss depending on what is donated on any given week.  Lower donations don't mean that the number of people in need are lower... it means that what is on the shelves must be stretched further to help the same number (if not more) people with less...

What will you do to help feed those in your community who are finding it difficult to fill the grocery cart at the local supermarket?  You could help someone in your own neighborhood, where you work or someone at your child's school.  You may not know specifically who is benefiting, but what matters is that you care enough to help in any way you can.

Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.


RecipeGirl said…
This is wonderful. I really want to get my son involved in something like this YEAR ROUND, but we'll start with this fall's holidays. Thanks for the reminder. Wonderful.

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