Want to Help Feed America's Hungry Children?
Here's how to donate money, time, and the power of your voice to help the country's malnourished children get the food they need.
Start a local Blessings in a Backpack group. Contact Blessings in a Backpack (1-800-USA-4FOOD) for materials and info on how to get started in your community. Then research local schools with free/reduced price meal programs, and identify local supporters to raise funds to help buy food at a discount. Just $80 provides one child with backpacks full of food for a year! Once you have your volunteers and funds, call Blessings and they'll help you set up your program.
Donate to food banks. If you can't spare the time to start a program, donate directly to Blessings, your local community food bank, or Feeding America, the national umbrella group of food banks. Donating canned goods is helpful, but money is even more so, says Berg. "These groups can buy food at a discount, so where you can buy one can of food with your dollar, they can buy three."
Volunteer your expertise. "If you have rudimentary accounting knowledge and can help a small volunteer agency use a spreadsheet, five hours of that does more to fight hunger than five months of serving soup," says Berg. "Help them start a website or write grant applications; that's something they desperately need and never have enough people for."
Support national legislative efforts to end hunger. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (S. 771 and H.R. 1363) will be up for review again in 2010. (WIC stands for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.) These programs fund a number of efforts to protect children from hunger, including child care and after-school snacks, meals for low-income pregnant women, and coupons that can be used at farmers' markets. You can urge your senators and representatives to support expanded access to the programs at Feeding America's Hunger Action Center.
Curtis says that efforts to feed a community's children do far more than just ease hunger. "Principals at the schools we work with say that they are seeing parents who've never visited their school before, wanting to know who cares enough about their children that they're feeding their kids," he recounts.