With a stocked, or semi-stocked, pantry in your home, you probably have a handful of items that you just keep pushing out of the way to get to the cans or boxes that you want. Maybe these items were supposed to go into a recipe that you never made, or perhaps you bought too many and ended up with some you weren’t going to use.
Many of us have extra non-perishable food items in our homes that we could easily part with and don’t think much of it, but with a 16% hunger rate in Northern Indiana alone, we hold a veritable goldmine!
Food donation centers and events have been around for as many years as any of us can remember. We don’t seem to be closing the gap, however, on hunger. In fact, the hunger rate is actually rising.
There are now even programs for kids that schools have identified as having such a need that they are provided with a supply of food to get them through the weekend until they are able to come back to school where they may be getting their only meal of the day. Since 2006, the Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Fun Packs Program (formerly known as Backpacks 4 Kids) has been filling sacks of nutritious food that’s kid-friendly and ready to eat with little or no cooking.
The term Fun Packs prevents the community from assuming that the Food Bank is distributing backpacks with school supplies instead of providing a supplemental sack of food for the weekend. Using a non-descript sack helps shield students from any stigma that may be associated with being hungry and receiving food assistance. Food programs for children have shown to increase school attendance, decrease behavior problems, and improve concentration abilities of students as well as academic achievement.
Children are not the only ones in need of food. Senior citizens, usually on a fixed income, are often faced with the decision of buying food or buying medication and paying household expenses. Not getting both the food and medication needed does not help our seniors sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Households that struggle to keep a supply of food in the house are referred to by the Food Bank as being “food insecure”. There are several ways we can help these families who are in sometimes desperate need of food, and not only during the holidays. This time of year it’s at the forefront of our minds to donate food and help those in need.
Donate Food - Ongoing food donations provided by individuals and groups has an immediate impact to our member agencies by filling their pantries, soup kitchens and shelters with much-needed shelf-stable food items and supplies.
Donate Money - $1 = 9 meals or 11 pounds of food. For every dollar donated, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana can provide 9 meals or 11 pounds of food to its member agencies. 94 cents of every dollar donated goes back into our community.
Volunteer - Organize a food drive or volunteer directly with the Food Bank. Approximately 30 volunteers are needed each day to help their organization run smoothly. Sharing your time and your talents really makes a difference to those in need.
Many people throughout our city and state are in dire need of food. A lot of hard-working people struggle to put food on the table for their families. Donating food can be considered a form of recycling, instead of letting unwanted or extra items languish in the back of the pantry or throwing them away. Food donations are an excellent way to cut down on our own personal waste and are a good way to give the many people that are hungry throughout the world something good to eat.
For more information on Food Banks in your area, visit www.feedingamerica.org. To learn about other recyclable products visit www.wasteawaygroup.com.