We all equate food donation, and particularly turkey donations during a specific time of year as a way of expressing our gratitude for what we do have and as a way, however, small, of helping others. In our heads, we would like to envision those we wish to help, sitting down to a wholesome dinner with their own families. But, let’s be realistic for a moment. If there is no oven in which to cook all the trimmings for a holiday dinner, having them is of no use. Consider those living on the street. A small fire might burn for warmth, but it cannot cook a turkey dinner. Consider those in shelters. Many do not have cooking facilities. An oven might be available in a foster home, but it might be old and small. The generosity being shown only highlights the indignity of a homeless, hungry person who is desperate to find any way they can to prepare their holiday meal.
Food donations do not alleviate hunger unless they are suited to a recipient’s needs. Being a food-insecure individual is more than having an empty refrigerator and pantry. It also means not having access to the needed kitchen appliances, tools, resources, and utilities required to prepare food. Those who generously made food donations never see this reality because they have never experienced hunger firsthand. This lack of access affects how and when donations reach the people who need it most.
It is best to consider how your contributions to food banks can go furthest. Think about non-perishable, high protein items that have a long shelf life and are nutrient rich. Most importantly, they can be easily prepared in microwaves or on hot plates. Consider donating your energy through volunteering to sort, pack, and distribute in-kind donations. Making a financial contribution has the greatest flexibility to meet a nonprofit’s needs to fulfill its mission.
So, when you pledge to pay it forward, think about how best to do it – for those who are hungry, for those with no access to an oven, for those who need volunteers to help distribute donations, and for those who can make a financial contribution go the farthest.
What do you think?