I’ve seen the viral photos of tens of thousands of cars lined up for emergency food services around America and heard the testimonials of those providing relief about how “utterly horrific” the situation is everywhere you look. I’ve heard stories from friends volunteering for local pop-up emergency food stations in Lambertville, NJ of giving away hundreds of meals in a single day. I’ve also felt the complications and stresses of trying to volunteer at food pantries during a pandemic. It’s a cruel irony that COVID-19 has made the issue of food insecurity both much more acute and also more challenging than ever to address. For those of us fortunate enough to be in a position to help, now, more than ever, we have to make fighting hunger a priority. It is real and everywhere and exploding.
Hunger has deep and violent roots that fuel social ills, from individual children unable to focus and learn in school, to nations at war over resources. This global impact and import was made clear by the Nobel Committee this year, who awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme in an effort to both highlight and honor the work they do to address this issue that has footholds in every single country and community in the world, footholds that dig deeper every day.
Addressing food insecurity has always been a priority for Solebury’s student-led Service Society, whether it be running food drives, taking volunteer trips to local food pantries, fundraising, meal packing, or advocating for food activism. But this year, as the pandemic bears down on the country and the world, we’ve made it imperative to highlight food insecurity and work to both raise awareness and take action on this issue.
Last spring, as part of our all-school service day, we organized a food drive for Face to Face, a local organization serving the Germantown community. We also ran a virtual 5K to fundraise for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. This fall, Solebury’s Service Society ran a weekend activity in collaboration with our Home and School Association, baking casseroles for donation to Face to Face, as well as making cards to sell as a fundraiser for the cause. We collaborated with the tenth-grade class on a food drive, gathering hundreds of items for donation, and we are planning an assembly to highlight the issue of food insecurity as well as collaborating with other clubs and organizations to explore the many facets and causes of hunger.
Many of the organizations that we regularly partner with combat hunger, directly and indirectly, like Carversville Farm Foundation, Fisherman’s Mark, Rolling Harvest, and Face to Face. Many of our community members serve as volunteers and board members for places near and dear to them, like Manna on Mainstreet and the Highland Park Community Food Pantry. Awareness and action when it comes to food insecurity is woven into the fabric of Solebury’s community.
If you are looking for ways to make addressing food insecurity a priority this holiday season, or any season, here are a few ideas of things to do:
Donate! Every dollar given to organizations like those listed above goes to feeding and supporting people and families in need.
Participate in a Virtual Food Drive. This is an easy and safe way to support these organizations by creating a platform for giving without ever having to leave your home.
Volunteer. Many organizations are in desperate need of volunteers, both in-person and virtually. Contact your local food pantry to find out ways to help safely. You can find a local organization by visiting feedingamerica.org.
Look for shopping promotions like AmazonSmile, which allows you to choose a charity (like any of those listed above!) to sponsor through your buying. Many businesses (like Crate & Barrel) offer promotions of certain products that involve charitable giving to organizations addressing hunger. Of course, giving to a charity in someone’s honor is a great gift in and of itself.
Advocate! Talk to your friends and family about food insecurity. Raise awareness both about its existence and ways to help.
Activate! Write and call your elected officials. Food insecurity is a complex and systematic problem. Charitable organizations and donations are an essential part of the solution, but they cannot be the only answer. Let your elected officials know that food programs and food security are a priority to their constituents. There are many advocacy resources available online to help get you started.