Five ways to help hungry people

Lindsay Wilcox, Freelance Writer

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Did you know that 1 in 9 people in the United States face hunger — and nearly one-third are children? A coworker may be skipping lunch every day. A neighbor might not have the funds for groceries. A first-grader may only eat meals at school.

Though you may not be aware of them, hungry people are in your neighborhood, workplace, church, and schools. Here are 10 ways you can help them:

Fund a shopping cart on Givley

Through our unique platform, people in need can search for groceries at their nearest supermarket and add them to their cart. This may be a single parent who’s in between jobs, a college student bogged down by tuition debt, or a family who lost their home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what their situation is, you can help someone buy groceries today so they’re not hungry tomorrow. Don’t have enough to fund the entire cart? Even a $10 or $20 donation can help someone in need, and this makes it easier for another person to contribute what they can.

Create care packages for the homeless

We’ve all walked or driven by a person holding a cardboard sign on the side of the road and not been sure what to do. Since you may not have cash on hand or feel comfortable giving someone money, make kits you can hand out when you encounter a person in need. You could include:

  • Bottled water
  • Juice
  • Crackers
  • Fruit cups
  • Granola bars
  • Soap or body wash
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Stretchy hats
  • Gloves
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Handwarmers
  • Wipes or hand sanitizer

Put everything in a zipped bag and keep a few kits in your car or shopping bag if you’ll be walking outside. This is also a great way to teach children and teens about helping people in your neighborhood.

Help local schools implement weekend food programs

Some elementary schools send kids home with bags of food to eat during the weekend or over a long school break, since many students miss meals while school is out. If your area school does this, talk to the parent teacher association (PTA) or principal about how you can get involved. You may be able to donate to this program, buy food, or even contribute bags. If your school doesn’t already have a weekend or school break program, ask the PTA about starting one. Other parents will often be willing to help if you take the lead.

Buy an extra meal at a restaurant or grocery store

If you’re in line for a drive-thru (and who isn’t right now with many dine-in restaurants restricted), pay attention to the people around you. Ask for an extra burger or sandwich and give it to the homeless man you passed near the entrance. Look at the car behind you and pay for their order. If you’re in line behind someone who has to put groceries back, offer to buy those items. You may be surprised by how far one small act of kindness can go.

Volunteer at or donate to the food bank when fewer people are available

COVID-19 has made it hard to volunteer in person or serve food to those in need, but you can still find ways to help. Food banks and homeless shelters are often inundated around Thanksgiving and winter holidays, so commit now to help when support is scarce. If you’d normally treat yourself on your birthday in the spring, donate that money to the homeless shelter instead. Organize a food drive for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or another unexpected holiday. Start a family tradition to volunteer together during school breaks, or donate to the food bank during the summer months.

How do you help your neighbors with hunger? Share your suggestions!