Well, we made it to September everyone! For many parents, this month traditionally means kiddos are back in school, fall sports are in full swing and we start thinking about making plans for spending the holidays with families and friends. This year is anything but traditional, and many parents are now adapting to their kids learning from home with no fall sports as an outlet and it’s more than likely that this holiday season will look and feel different than in years past.
This fall also looks different for thousands of people struggling with food insecurity in our region, many for the very first time. As a result of COVID-19, many more of our neighbors have lost jobs, lost wages, and now are struggling to find ways to pay bills, purchase medicines and provide food to nourish themselves and their family members.
While the number of people seeking assistance has certainly risen throughout our 45-year history, so too has the number of community members rising to the occasion. One of the most frequent questions we get at the Foodbank is, “what can I do to help?” September is Hunger Action Month and it feels like a perfect time to talk about the reality of hunger in our neighborhoods and the role that each of us can play in addressing it. Something you hear around the St Louis Area Foodbank a lot is “hunger can affect anyone, but anyone can affect hunger.” In that spirit, here are the top 5 ways you can be a “Hunger Hero” and help us provide food and HOPE to our neighbors in need:
- Care and share – Check on friends and family members in your communities, especially seniors or those that have medical issues that limit their ability to leave their homes. You can do this safely – with a phone call or talking through a window. Many people who are struggling, suffer in silence. Let them know you are there, and you care. If they have reliable internet access, share our website http://stlfoodbank.org/covid19. On that page, there’s information about the food pantries closest to them (or you), listings for our mobile markets (you could earn bonus points by picking up food for them) and information about how our team members can help them apply to receive SNAP benefits, if they qualify.
- Fall Food Drives – These are safe, fun, and needed! Please visit our website https://stlfoodbank.org/get-involved/food-drives/ to find a list of our most needed food and non-food items. Community food drives helped us during the beginning of the pandemic and replaced the loss of a large community food drive with the USPS. We can even provide logoed St Louis Area Foodbank barrels to help assist your efforts!
- Financial Support – Your financial support is greatly appreciated and goes a long way. With $1, we can provide 4 meals and 97% of our resources go toward food distribution – so your money is very well spent and stays local. Visit https://stlfoodbank.org/financial-support/ to learn about the many different ways you can bless the Foodbank with a financial contribution (and please don’t forget about matching gifts from your company or giving shares of stock). We also have Missouri Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits available for larger financial donations.
- Volunteer with us – Are you stuck at home? Are you looking for a great “field trip” with the kids in a safe, clean, and incredible environment? Consider signing up for one of our socially-distanced shifts (max of 20 people, 2 groups of 10) at our facility in Bridgeton, Mo. You can help us sort donations to be distributed, pack up food boxes, and make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people in just two short hours. Masks are required.
- Follow us and share stories, photos and opportunities on social media – Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram – we are sharing stories, making videos and posting amazing opportunities for everyone to positively impact our community during Hunger Action Month (and year-round honestly )! The more people who know about our work, our impact, and how to get involved, the stronger our community will be. Maybe your comment or post could turn into the next great idea or partnership for the St Louis Area Foodbank. We love meeting new friends and hearing feedback and ideas!
These are just a few of the many ways that you help during Hunger Action Month. We also hope you will wear orange (and post about it!) throughout the month. Orange is the national color of hunger awareness and snapping a picture is one of the easiest ways to show you care about the cause. Remember – hunger can affect anyone, but anyone can affect hunger! As always, stay safe, remember to exercise “PFG” (patience, flexibility and grace), and know that we are truly grateful for your support.