Poverty and food insecurity are prevalent in senior populations across America, and can lead to a host of physical and mental health issues. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult for almost everyone. However, it is our aging population that experiences the full effects of poverty and food insecurity.
Many of our senior citizens have higher-than-average living costs that include healthcare and medication for chronic illnesses. When combined with a decrease in income due to retirement, many older adults find themselves making tough life choices. In many cases, they must often make decisions between paying their bills and buying enough of the healthy food their vulnerable systems require.
Here’s how you can support the food security of our senior citizens this holiday season and beyond:
Older adults are vulnerable to unexpected expenses as they often do not have enough money saved for emergencies. Unforeseen costs, high living costs, and lower wages due to retirement can mean the difference between eating fresh and processed food, or in certain cases, not eating enough food at all.
Additionally, many low-income senior citizens have no choice but to work to cover all their expenses, leading some to further expose themselves to the virus.
If you’re unable to volunteer or help in person, make a donation to your local food bank. Whether it’s $5 or $500, this money can make a huge difference. Safely preparing and delivering millions of meals for our seniors comes with costs, such as transportation, groceries and meal ingredients, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for those on our front lines. No donation is too small to assist in the efforts to feed our most vulnerable.
Many seniors are housebound right now, as they are among the most likely to suffer from more severe COVID-19 symptoms. They’re even more anxious, depressed, and isolated than us younger folks, unable to visit friends and family due to strict lockdowns and social distancing regulations. They may also not be as mobile as they were pre-pandemic. Simple errands like buying groceries are even more out of reach for them than usual during the pandemic.
Contribute your time or your efforts to your local food bank. With volunteer jobs like food preparation, packaging, and delivery, there’s a task for everyone. Imagine the good you can do by volunteering a few hours each week to deliver meals to their homes or long-term care facilities!
There are many benefits to volunteering for a food bank, like the satisfaction that comes from knowing that your help is saving lives. It also doesn’t take a large commitment of time and effort to volunteer — many volunteers can only do so once per week or once per month. However, with all of our efforts combined, you and millions of other volunteers can feed and support our senior citizens during the most vulnerable time of their lives.
At Second Harvest, we welcome you to join us! If you’re wondering how to get started, visit our website to sign up as a volunteer this holiday season or donate now.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, people are now fully in the holiday spirit. By now, most of us have received some — or all — of our gift deliveries. We’ve planned our holiday dinner menus, decided how we’re going to socially distance with any guests, and have figured out a safe way to celebrate the holiday season, with or without our cherished loved ones.
Despite all the difficulties that 2020 brought, many of us are still able to live a full, robust life with the ones we love. As we huddle together, remaining safe in our homes over the coming holiday season, let us remember that if we are in good physical, mental and financial health, then we’re doing pretty good.
However, not all of us come up positive when doing the triple check (physical, mental, financial). Many are still financially vulnerable, and many are facing poverty conditions. This can lead to the breakdown of at least one of the remaining two pillars of health (physical and mental). This is a difficult circle, and as anyone facing poverty will inform you, it is one that is nearly impossible to get out from under.
Here’s how you can help:
Since the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have relied on food banks to deal with unexpected job or income losses.
If you’re not on lockdown, try donating to a food bank in person. Walk to your kitchen cupboards, find some non-perishable items, put them by your door in a plastic bag, and the next time you go out, take a small detour to your local food bank and drop them off. Let the organizers know that you’d like to volunteer to package or deliver meals. At Second Harvest Food Bank, we also recruit volunteers with pickup trucks to transport food from the food bank to people’s homes and communities.
Still isolating or quarantining at home? You can go online, find your local food bank, and donate as little as $5. It only takes 5 minutes.
Imagine how many vulnerable people could be fed, especially during this holiday season, if we all just chipped in.
Use Your Social Networks
As most of us stay in our homes, remaining safe and socially distant, we are always looking for new things to do. Consider running an online benefit or food drive. Many of us have hundreds, if not thousands of social media friends, and belong to many different online groups. Why not leverage these connections and start a social media fundraiser or food drive?
With only four or five people, you can create a group or fundraiser on a platform like Facebook and stir up some excitement for your campaign. Take an hour or two to plan it, and include friends and family in the process to expand things even further. Keep people engaged by posting fresh new content every day, including calls to action encouraging your networks to join in and donate. Comment, like, and share to spur positive engagement.
Both of these activities are even more fun with a team. Gather up some of your friends and family, and spread the work around. If you split the tasks among a group of organizers, you can give back to those who need you, and have a whole lot of fun!
The holiday season is a time for people to reflect on their year, feel gratitude for their friends and family, and get into the giving spirit. During this time, you find ways to be generous to your loved ones by buying presents, sending cards, baking sweet goods, and more. The sense to give around this time provides a higher volume of donations to food banks and other charities. This is a great way to help other people in your community get access to the wonderful meals and gifts of the holidays that you enjoy as well.
Unfortunately, hunger isn’t seasonal. It doesn’t begin the same day as the first Turkey Drive in November and it doesn’t end the day after the big ball drops in New York City. Sadly, as the new year begins and the Christmas cheer fades, so do the contributions to food banks. The high influx of supplies that makes a huge difference in feeding those who can’t afford proper food supply goes down, leaving fewer supplies to hand out daily for the rest of the year.
More People Are Starving
This year, food insecurity has skyrocketed. Thousands have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving a higher population than usual impoverished and hungry. People who once had secure jobs in industries heavily hit by the pandemic, like hospitality, or who owned a small business, are left unable to financially support themselves or their families due to present conditions.
Food pantries are being overwhelmed with a higher volume of people relying on their services. These lines won’t stop after the holidays. People will be visiting food pantries to their daily supply throughout the year. Without enough food donations, they’ll have to share smaller portions that won’t be enough for the body and mind to function properly.
Help Promote Health Year-Round
It’s a very heart-warming gesture to want to share your traditions with others by donating foods like cranberry sauce or stuffing mix. But, beyond these tastes of the holidays, donate foods that will offer sustenance. Donate nutritious non-perishable foods that contribute to people’s wellbeing when eating them. On top of Christmas cookies and seasonal treats, give foods that will meet survival needs.
Donating food consistently throughout the year will help those suffering in poverty combat the many detrimental effects of hunger. Malnourishment and starvation are highly connected with physical distress and mental health issues. Lack of vitamins or too much sugar/sodium leave people more susceptible to diseases and oral health problems. However, by sharing vitamin and protein-rich foods beyond the holidays, you’re lowering these risks and helping relieve some of these pains.
Keep Donating With Second Harvest
Don’t let your generosity burnout after the holiday season. Remember that the people who rely on food banks don’t go anywhere when the new year begins. Show your compassion for your hungry neighbors by helping us keep them fed and healthy all year. Donate to Second Harvest now to get started on the fight against hunger.
Food Bank Donation Guidelines
Donating to a food bank involves finding out what kind of help they provide, including the areas they cover. There might be specific and immediate items they need, which you can prioritize to make an impact in the lives of those who need immediate help.
If you want to ensure that you’re supplying the right goods (i.e., perishable, non-perishable, frozen, preserved) to the food bank, you can contact the organization and inquire about what you can include on your purchase list because there might be limitations to what they can store and categorize. They can answer most questions about the food classifications they distribute to specific sectors and also where they receive the donations.
What to Donate
Food banks require non-perishable products that can be stored at room temperature to preserve them before distributing them to charitable associations and food aids.
They are commonly in need of dry products with a long shelf life, such as canned fish (sardines, tuna, etc.), canned meat, canned fruit (pineapple, apricots, peach, etc.), canned vegetables (beans, peas, tomatoes, etc.), starches (rice or pasta), oil, breakfast cereals, cookies, coffee, tea, sugar, and many more.
Do We Take Perishable and Frozen Food?
It is often not possible to donate refrigerated or frozen products due to the effects of the cold chain.
However, many food banks do accept perishable food supplies whenever there schedule can allow it. The supplies must be given at least 48 hours before the expiry date unless the agreement sets a shorter deadline. But remember, this only happens if the food bank is about to distribute the food supplies to those that need it very quickly.
Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties does accept and can store perishable and frozen foods. They are most welcome any time of the year and not just during holidays.
To ensure food safety on frozen goods, these precautionary rules should be followed:
Management of Supplies in Food Banks
The organization’s volunteers responsible for the storage and distribution of surplus food must guarantee the proper management of the proposed service.
The volunteers and employees of the associations should implement rules of hygiene.
Once the supplies are collected, the food products are sorted by categories, weighed, recorded, and stored before being distributed throughout the charitable associations.
If you want to be part of a community dedicated to changing people’s lives, visit us to learn more about our program!
One of the primary consequences of poverty is the lack of access to a sufficient quantity of healthy and balanced food, which is what private charitable organizations, such as food banks, are trying to address. The fight against hunger is real.
This article discusses how food banks work, their impact on many individuals and families, and the unfortunate hunger cases that are continuously rising because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is a Food Bank?
A food bank is a non-profit organization with the primary role of storing food donations from various sources and passing them on to charities (agencies) with direct access to people experiencing hunger. The goal is to supply and distribute food to hunger-relief foundations. It is also a network of programs run by volunteer agencies. Many of these organizations do a evert thing they can to relieve the hunger problem in the U.S. and beyond.
There are numerous food banks operating in different regions in the country. They vary from small to large scale operations, depending on the number of connections throughout their network and the size of the population that is in need of assistance. Second Harvest here spans over several counties and supplies more than 100 local agencies.
How Does Food Banks Work?
The ability of food banks to provide people in need with essential food and commodities depends mostly on donations from individuals and other charitable organizations. It is truly a product of collective effort.
Food banks collect food from several sources like:
Fortunately, food banks are able to offer a wide variety of products and services to those who need them. People can enjoy food with all kinds of nutritious sources. This assistance aims to meet the basic needs of individuals who have difficulty eating or buying necessities to have a good quality of life.
Distribution centers have always offered a free choice of what foods people can take with them. Thus, they leave the centers with products they have chosen from the different food categories: proteins, starches, vegetables, dairy products, etc.
For most organizations, distribution is done weekly or monthly, i.e., people wishing to receive food aid must go to the establishment during the period scheduled for the distribution. Second Harvest themselves provides several Mobile Fresh locations throughout the month.
Why Food Banks Are Important
The Fight on Hunger has been a lifelong issue that we will never give up fighting. But given the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, people need food aid even more.
More than half of households were already using aid measures like the national school meals program. The USDA said - In New York, for example, breakfast and lunch are free in schools. Despite the closure of schools since mid-March, the city has also set up distributions of free meals in front of the doors of 400 schools. And since the beginning of April, help has been open to all residents. San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties have been doing similar setups to make sure children are getting as much assistance as possible.
The Need for Food Banks In Times of Covid-19 Pandemic
America’s food crisis was severe even before the Covid-19 pandemic. About 37 million people lived in households without sufficient resources to ensure constant access to enough food for active and healthy lives.
The disastrous economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to leave tens of millions of people unable to purchase enough food to feed their families this holiday and probably until into the next year.
During the quarantine/isolation period, food banks are particularly called upon to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people. Nationally, the demand for help in food banks and pantries has increased since the virus forced the economy to shut down, resulting in more than 40 million new jobless claims. We fear that the most recent escalation could create a similar lock down scenario like we saw earlier in the year.
Because of the health crisis, hundreds of thousands of employees have been laid off. Likewise, thousands of self-employed people suddenly had to cease all their activities. Consequently, a large part of the population finds itself plunged into a situation where it can no longer meet its needs.
Food banks have had to respond to a growing and unforeseen demand for food aid like never before.
Make A Difference Today!
What seems ordinary to some people may already be luxury and an essential provision for the most deprived. Food banks are the manifestation of the desire of individuals to help others and, therefore, create a better world.
A large number of food distribution centers remain open to ensure continuity of food aid and, above all, to provide for families and assist them in their rehabilitation needs.
If you or anyone you know wants to take part in mobilizing our objective to help reduce the hunger crisis in our country, visit us here to learn how food banks work and create an impact on the world!
The world is looking very different compared to this time last year. Our day-to-day life is impacted by gathering restrictions, social distancing standards, and constant anxiety because of COVID-19. Lockdowns and the fear of contracting the disease and becoming a possible carrier have changed the economy, forcing businesses to close their doors either temporarily or permanently. Thousands are still unable to work and are wondering how to financially support themselves and their families.
It’s understandable for anyone to feel anxious and blue, especially as the holidays approach. It’s a hard reality that you may not get to enjoy your regular traditions with friends and family or share in the gift-giving season we all look forward to every year. However, now more than ever, hope is what you and those around you need to believe in most.
While you may not get to see everyone you usually gather with, and your budget may be more limited, there are ways to still enjoy the good parts of this season and make new and unique memories with your loved ones.
If You Can’t Gather, Go Virtual
Although you’ve been asked to stay home for public safety, you can still party. Try video calling through Zoom, Skype, or Facetime. You can see your loved ones despite being apart. You’ll forget about the screen between you and feel like you’re together, especially if you broadcast it on to your TV.
Get creative with your video party for a memorable, fun-filled gathering.
Make Gifts Yourself
If you’re among the high percentage of hard workers whose job was impacted by the coronavirus, you may be a bit stressed about how to buy the right gifts for the people you care about. Fortunately, you can make presents that won’t bust your budget. Try DIY gifts that involve care at no cost. That way, you can personalize what you give to the people you love, and they’ll have your thoughtful crafts to keep forever. You can turn this into a family event within your own household. The kids will love it!
Spreading Hope to Those That Need It
It may not always feel like it is the easiest thing to do sometimes, but creating a positive outward appearance will bring positivity to the people around you. The positive environment can be infectious creating a hopeful attitude to all of those around you. Make sure you are smiling, greeting the people you see, and keeping a good outlook. You will start to see others do the same.
This may be one of the most difficult holiday seasons in our lifetime. So remember, it can be an especially difficult time for people who have lost a loved one, maybe grappling with mental or physical health issues, or are extremely impoverished. Your infectious smile may be all someone needs right now.
So take this time to be generous to others. This hope is amazingly beneficial to helping you just as much as the ones that surround you. If you shine brightly, it will find others who will carry it on.
There are many other ways to help when you know there are many that have had their world turned upside down. You can give back by volunteering, donating money or goods to charities and food banks in your area. Give the gift of hope to people who need it the most.
At Second Harvest, we’re grateful for those who choose to share the love with their community. If you’re wondering how to get started, visit our website to sign up as a volunteer this holiday season or donate now.