Amid the bad news and chaos that seems to come at us on a daily basis, people are looking for ways to help those who are most negatively affected by COVID-19.
Food banks are doing their best to feed the food insecure during this crisis, but job losses, school closures, and many other factors are making that job even more difficult than usual.
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The most important thing you can do to take the pressure off food banks right now? Do your part to stop the spread of the coronavirus by staying home, washing your hands often, and wearing gloves and a face mask if you must leave your house.
Here are five more ways to help:
1. Donate money to your local food bank.
We’re willing to bet your community food bank needs your money now more than ever. On top of their regular services, people at food pantries around the country are now working tirelessly to deal with food insecurity caused by COVID-19.
Find out how to donate to your local food bank here.
2. Donate money to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger relief program, established the COVID-19 Response Fund last month to help food banks across the U.S.
The organization, which has a network of 200 food banks nationwide, says the $2.65 million fund will “enable food banks to secure the resources they need to serve the most vulnerable members of the community during this difficult time.”
Read more about the fund here.
3. Volunteer (if you’re not in an at-risk group).
Depending on where you live, your local food bank may be in need of volunteers.
Because many hunger relief programs rely on older volunteers—who are now strongly encouraged or ordered to self-isolate—to sort food items and help with day-to-day tasks, volunteers are in short supply.
Keep in mind, though: Shelter-in-place orders and other restrictions may make physical volunteering impossible. You should call ahead before you show up ready to help.
Of course, if you’ve gotten the OK to volunteer in-person, it’s extremely important that you wear proper safety gear (gloves and a face mask, at the very least).
4. If you’re cleaning out your pantry, donate excess food.
The best way for people to support food banks now is to donate money, according to the Wall Street Journal. Food donations, while appreciated, take a lot of time to sort. Also, food banks are able to procure food cheaply on their own using donation money.
However, since you’ve likely spent some of your time in quarantine doing some spring cleaning, it’s better to donate excess non-perishables instead of throwing them away.
5. Become an advocate.
You don’t have to spend money to be an advocate for the food insecure. You can easily spread the love by sharing your community food bank’s posts or fundraisers on social media.
You can also take action on a federal level: Write to your local government officials about supporting and voting for hunger relief programs.
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