How to help food banks this Thanksgiving as COVID-19 deepens demand

KELLY MCCARTHY
·2 min read

During the holiday season, people typically look to schools, churches, grocery stores and other community events to donate food to those in need.

But ahead of Thanksgiving, food banks are swamped with increased demand due to the continued fallout from the pandemic with millions unemployed and a greater amount of food-insecure individuals and families in need.

The nationwide hunger relief charity Feeding America predicted that one in six Americans — around 54 million people — will experience food insecurity amid the ongoing public health crisis. The organization reported that 80% of food banks are serving more people than they were the same time last year.

PHOTO: Cars line up during the Meadowlands Area YMCA and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey food drive ahead of the Thanksgiving holidayin East Rutherford, N.J., Nov. 24, 2020.  (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
PHOTO: Cars line up during the Meadowlands Area YMCA and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey food drive ahead of the Thanksgiving holidayin East Rutherford, N.J., Nov. 24, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

For people looking to help with the nonprofit's network of 200 food banks, there are new alternatives to lend a hand for food drives this holiday season.

Host a virtual food drive

Don't worry about leaving the house to lug canned and boxed goods to a collection box. This option is perfect for anyone hosting a holiday gathering online this year.

Feeding America has the option to set up an online fundraising page with a local food bank, and the creator can simply ask friends and family to contribute.

PHOTO: Volunteers wait to load food into the trunk of vehicles during a ''Let's Feed L.A. County'' food distribution in Burbank, Calif., Nov. 14, 2020. (Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press)
PHOTO: Volunteers wait to load food into the trunk of vehicles during a ''Let's Feed L.A. County'' food distribution in Burbank, Calif., Nov. 14, 2020. (Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press)

Once donations are completed, every donor receives a receipt, and funds go directly toward food banks.

The virtual option helps alleviate what traditional food drives would cost. Plus, with COVID-19 restrictions, some food banks may not accept food donations from the community due to safety concerns.

The organization suggests including the fundraiser link and information in the invitation of your virtual gathering.

"This is a simple way to let everyone know that you're doing something really special this year. Even if your guests can’t join, it allows them to give back," Feeding America wrote in a blog post.

PHOTO:A volunteer packs a box of food ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during Meadowlands Area YMCA and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey food drive in East Rutherford, N.J., Nov. 24, 2020.  (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
PHOTO:A volunteer packs a box of food ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during Meadowlands Area YMCA and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey food drive in East Rutherford, N.J., Nov. 24, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)

Check out the online toolkit that shares advice and social posts for setting up fundraisers with Feeding America.

Donate Thanksgiving food to a local food bank

Locate a local food bank, and check their drop-off information, operation hours and busiest hours.

PHOTO:The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank distributes food outside a church in Los Angeles, Nov. 19. 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
PHOTO:The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank distributes food outside a church in Los Angeles, Nov. 19. 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Some areas may not accept food donations or may have specific requests, so follow local food bank guidance on what is needed most this holiday.

With higher demand around the holidays, food banks will look for the following healthy, non-perishable foods:

Boxed stuffing
Instant mashed potatoes
Canned vegetables
Dry macaroni
Cranberry sauce
Canned pumpkin

For more information or to locate your local food bank, click here.

How to help food banks this Thanksgiving as COVID-19 deepens demand originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com