Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
To whom much is given, much is required ~ Luke 12:48
The words above speak to a common theme—we should use what we have been given for good. As we close out what is arguably the worst year in recent memory, it is a poignant call to help those less fortunate. The phrase is biblically rooted in the New Testament, but its call to action transcends religion.
In the film Spiderman, Uncle Ben’s words parallel this wisdom to a young Peter Parker when he tells him, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The takeaway from both is the more we have been given, the greater our responsibility becomes.
Individually and collectively, the holidays remind us to share what we’ve been given. One of the easiest and best ways is to support your local food bank.
A Non-Recovering Economy
December gets caught up in the commercialization of the season and 2020 is no exception. But this year our holiday celebrations, like everything else, are defined by a pandemic. That big family dinner is unlikely to happen even for those with food on their tables.
Record unemployment means many are unable to provide for their families and the hope for an economic recovery is bleak. The latest jobless claims reported by the U.S. Department of Labor brought the seasonally adjusted pandemic total to 68.9 million. This is an unprecedented level, not seen since data collection started in 1948.
The U.S. labor market eliminated 22.2 million jobs at the start of the coronavirus recession, and 10 million remain unrestored to date. Travel, hospitality, restaurants and recreation industries will take years to recover. The $600 weekly jobless benefit has run out and there is no new stimulus package as the year draws to a close.
Hunger Doesn’t Take a Holiday
“Consumer Reports” states that 19% of grocery shoppers have used a food pantry, food bank or community food distribution during the pandemic; many for the first time.
“Feeding America” estimates financial stress from the pandemic could result in as many as 50 million Americans (including 17 million children) without dependable access to affordable, nourishing food.
It’s called food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resource. It’s a cold definition for those who are hungry and in need of food.
People counting on a return to work are struggling to put food on the table. Food banks and pantries have been required to adapt their procedures and policies to keep their doors open. These requirements fall on the food banks themselves, increasing operating costs when they are already struggling to meet demands.
Between March and June of this year, 4 in 10 people visiting food banks had not received food assistance before the pandemic. “I had no idea I would ever need food,” is a phrase often heard by those picking up supplies.
Facts on Hunger
- 50 million people may experience hunger because of COVID-19
- 60% increase in the number of people seeking help from food banks
- 8 billion meals needed to meet increased demand
Food banks need donations and volunteer support to keep their programs running. When you donate supplies or time it makes a positive impact on people with the greatest need. We are all affected when someone is hungry due to circumstances beyond their control.
During the holidays those in need look to schools, churches, grocery stores and community drives to provide food. Since Coronavirus is calling the shots, many of these options are closed. Drive-thru and online food pantries offer the best and safest ways for food banks to provide support.
November and December are always high traffic months for food banks, but this year they have been hard hit.
Local communicates have implemented virtual options to alleviate what traditional food drives would cost. COVID-19 restrictions being what they are, some food banks may not accept food donations due to safety concerns.
Sharing a meal offers an amazing return on the investment.
Right now, a monetary donation is one of the most useful and efficient ways to support a food bank. It gives the organization flexibility and funds to provide specific items where the need is greatest.
Another great option is a virtual food drive. If you cannot collect donations in person or are unable to deliver donations to your local food bank, find an online link and contribute. Rally your family and friends and set up your own holiday drive.
Food banks can often purchase food for much lower costs than you pay at a grocery store. Sorting and inspecting donated food items require time and resources. There is also a volunteer shortage, so a virtual food drive helps food banks put its limited resources to other uses. Feeding America offers an easy way to organize a virtual food drive.
This holiday season let your generosity be the food on someone’s table. Hunger isn’t an easy problem but it is one of the world’s greatest solvable problems.